NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Unlike last evening, when Yale spotted Brown a 2-0 lead and came from behind, the Bulldogs dominated the Bears from the opening faceoff en route to a 2-0 series-clenching victory before 2,770 at Ingalls Rink.
“We knew exactly what we needed to do, and I give credit to everyone for coming out from the first puck drop and getting after it,” said senior captain Matt Nelson. “We played awesome in the first period, and we were able to maintain it for most of the game.”
Yale came out of a penalty-riddled first period in which the teams combined for seven minor penalties, one boarding major, and seven power play chances with a 1-0 lead on the strength of a goal by Mark Arcobello at the 12:42 mark.
The goal was set up on a terrific back-to-front feed by Denny Kearney, who dug out the puck behind the Brown net and slipped a pass to Arcobello, who was cutting hard to the left post, for the power-play goal.
Arcobello’s goal cemented a period of dominating territorial advantage for Yale in which the Bulldogs outshot the Bears by a 17-2 margin.
“I really liked the flow in our game,” said Yale coach Keith Allain. “We had sustained offensive pressure in their zone, and we didn’t really allow them to get anything in our zone.”
After a boarding penalty on Brown’s Jordan Pietrus with just six seconds left in the first period, Yale’s Kevin Limbert shoveled the puck just past an empty net as the period expired.
Brown, however, was not as lucky to start the second period. The Bears’ Matt Palmer took a slashing penalty just six seconds into the second, giving Yale a five-on-three advantage, upon which the Bulldogs immediately converted.
Senior Sean Backman potted a rebound from the bottom of the left circle to make it 2-0 in favor of the home team.
“You don’t win in the playoffs unless your power play is going, and the other side of the coin is that our penalty kill was perfect on the weekend; both are critical components to winning playoff hockey,” said Allain.
With a comfortable 2-0 lead, Yale played the remainder of the game in sound defensive fashion, taking short shifts, getting the puck out of its own end quickly, and getting the puck deep into the offensive zone.
Brown fought back hard in the last half of the third period, earning a power play with less than three minutes left to play, but Richards and the Yale defense were up to the task.
“It wasn’t perfect hockey, but I’m really proud of the way we closed out the game; guys were willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done from the first line to the fourth line,” said Allain.
Alec Richards, Yale’s senior netminder from Robbinsdale, Minn., turned aside all 19 shots that he faced, including several key saves late in the game with Brown on the power play.
“[Richards] made some huge saves in the third period when the game was very much on the line. He had a heck of a performance,” said Allain
Brown’s best chance to score came in the second period one a two-on-three rush. The puck carrier let a shot rip from the high slot that clipped Richards’ glove before hitting the post. After clanking the post, the puck fluttered in the slot for what seemed like minutes before it was cleared out of harm’s way. Unfortunately for the Bears, they could get no closer to solving Richards and Yale.
With the loss, Brown’s short-lived, but exciting, playoff run comes to an end. The Bears finish the season with a 5-23-5 record. With the win, the Bulldogs can now focus their attention on Albany, where they will skate in ECAC semifinal action next week.