NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Mike Karwoski had battled for a long shift in the Union zone. After winning the faceoff, he dueled for possession with counterpart Augie DiMarzo, then the Dutchmen defensemen took turns pummeling Yale’s diminutive freshman.
So it made perfect sense that when Karwoski scored the game-winning goal at 14:37 of the third period, he did so from his back, facemask unbuckled and one glove lying behind the net.
Karwoski’s tally extended Yale’s (6-10-2, 5-6-1) ECACHL unbeaten streak to six games and put an end to a fiercely played, back-and-forth conference clash with the suddenly struggling Dutchmen (11-10-4, 4-5-2).
“Those [games] sure take some years off your life,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said with a laugh.
The Bulldogs jumped ahead early but quickly learned that they were in for a battle. Matt Cohen started the scoring four minutes into the first period on a hard, low snapshot from the left point that found a hole between the legs of Kris Mayotte. The goal, which passed through a screen a front of Mayotte, was the first of the junior defenseman’s career.
Yale doubled its lead early in the second when Nate Jackson, who was shifted to Yale’s top line after center Brad Mills was ejected in the first period for checking from behind, poked home a loose puck amidst a mad scramble in front of the net.
Jackson gave the Dutchmen a goal right back minutes later, however, when he threw a breakout pass to Union’s Matt Cook, who beat Alec Richards with a low snapshot.
Six minutes later, Scott Brady scored the tying goal in similar fashion. Cradling a puck mishandled in front of the Yale net, Brady walked in alone on Richards and beat him high to the stick side after a couple of nifty dekes.
Poor defense continued to plague the Bulldogs on Union’s third goal. While Richards turned aside an initial shot from Jason Visser, Yale neglected the trailer, talented rookie blueliner Lane Caffaro, who converted the rebound into an easy goal.
Observers of the monumentally bad 2004-05 Bulldogs might have seen Union’s three unanswered second-period goals as the harbinger of another ugly loss, another inexorable wave of offense for the visitors. But the newly confident 2006 squad showed its mettle in the third period.
Just 30 seconds into the final frame, with a man advantage carried over from before intermission, Jeff Hristovski tipped in a Matt Craig shot from the point to tie the game for Yale.
Less than two minutes later, again on the power play, Yale’s Joe Zappala deflected a shot rocketed from the blue line by Bill LeClerc and beat Mayotte for his fifth goal of the season.
The Bulldogs were forced to play a man down a few minutes later when David Germain was whistled for another Yale checking-from-behind major. Before the power play, Union head coach Nathan Leaman called timeout, and his direction bore immediate fruit. Seven seconds later Caffaro, who is tied for sixth in the ECACHL in points by a defenseman (15), found the net again to even the score.
“When they got the tying goal, that would’ve been an easy time for a team to get their [spirits] down, but we never hung our heads,” Taylor said. “This team has a lot of character.”
Karwoski’s persistence — and the goal that resulted from it — proved just that.
“I didn’t think we had a lot of jump from the start,” Leaman said. “For whatever reason, we didn’t have a good start, and then I think we got outworked for much of the night.”