NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Two of the ECACHL’s struggling squads met today at Ingalls Rink. Brown (3-10-4, 2-6-2 ECACHL) and Yale (5-10-2, 4-6-1) traded goals for 60 minutes of regulation and five more of overtime, but, in a fashion typical of teams unaccustomed to victory, neither could muster the game-winner.
For Yale head coach Tim Taylor, who believed his team had turned things around since a horrid 1-8-0 start, the 3-3 tie against a last-place team that the Bulldogs had already beaten on the road was tough to swallow.
“We got what we deserved,” he said of Yale’s uneven effort. “We didn’t play well enough to win tonight. When you’re in tight games, you have to be perfect defensively, and we had a lot of breakdowns in the defensive zone. That was a bad tie.”
The Bulldogs started strong. David Meckler, a freshman who has dressed for each of Yale’s 17 games this season, scored his third career goal when he sent a wristshot screaming past Adam D’Alba’s right arm.
Brown controlled much of the remainder of the period, largely as a result of five Yale minor penalties.
The Bears converted on their first power-play opportunity when Sean Dersch found a loose puck and enough wiggle room in front of Yale’s Alec Richards to send in his third goal of the year.
“Taking those minor penalties in the first period got us real out of rhythm and gave them a lot of confidence,” Taylor said.
The Bulldogs took the lead again in the second period while skating four-on-four. Carrying the puck into the Brown zone on a two-on-two, Yale forward Zach Mayer lured both defensemen to him and, with his back turned to winger Joe Zappala, whipped a backhand pass to his linemate for an easy goal. Like a quarterback throwing deep in the face of a heavy rush, Mayer never saw the pass. The roar of the crowd told him the result of the play: touchdown.
The Bears countered when they gained possession in the neutral zone from an errant Matt Cohen pass. With five Bulldogs flying in the wrong direction, Ryan Garbutt, who intercepted the pass, was able to find Eric Slais for a breakaway. Slais deked right and slipped the puck between Richards’ legs.
Later in the period, a great hustle play in the defensive zone by Cohen set up Yale’s third goal, more than making up for his earlier miscue. The junior defenseman carried the puck from behind the net to the half boards before being tripped by a Brown winger. Falling to the ice, Cohen managed to cue the puck past a defenseman to Zappala, who fed a pass to Bill LeClerc for the go-ahead goal. With the tally, his sixth, LeClerc became the conference’s leader in goals by a defenseman.
“We gave them way too many two-on-ones and they capitalized on them,” Brown head coach Roger Grillo said. “I’m pleased with 90 percent of our effort, I just thought that if we had been able to play better defensively we might’ve won.
“But that’s been the story of our season. We do some things right but we can’t seem to get over that hump.”
Nevertheless, Brown did manage to tie. Early in the third period, Brian McNary, an impressive sophomore, took a feed from Dersch and ripped a shot over Richards’ right shoulder as the scrambling Yale defensemen again meandered around their own zone.
“Giving up the goal seconds into the third period when you’ve got a one-goal lead at home is really disappointing,” a frustrated Taylor said after the game.
Brown had two power-play chances later in the third but could not convert.
“[On the power play], we did a good job of shooting the puck early but then kept trying to make the perfect play instead of just putting it on net,” Grillo said.
Richards, a freshman who is now firmly entrenched as Taylor’s starter, made 33 saves in what should have been his fifth win of the season.
“We knew we had to come in and grab two points tonight,” Zappala said. “We overlooked them.”