HAMILTON, N.Y. — As the regular season enters its final stretch, every point is becoming more important with each passing day. Friday night at Starr Rink, the No. 6 Yale Bulldogs were able to claim two big points in a well-fought battle with the Colgate Raiders in a 6-3 win.
Offense was the story of this game and early on, the ice was tilted in Yales favor.
On their first power play of the game, Yale looked strong. Jeff Anderson had the puck at the point. He sent it into the corner where Brian ONeill picked it up, skated behind the Colgate net, and dished it out to Andrew Miller. Miller was just inside the left face off circle where he was able to backhand the puck off the crossbar and into the net, giving Yale a 1-0 lead at 3:53.
Later in the first, Yale broke out of the zone as Miller hit Sean Backman at the Bulldog blue line. Backman then zipped a headman pass to Brian ONeill, sending him in on a breakaway. As ONeill tried to deke around Colgate goaltender Alex Evin, he lost control of the puck. Evin was already committed, though, and the puck was able to trickle past him and in the net, putting Yale up by two.
Colgate was able to respond.
In a delayed penalty situation, Colgate was able to maintain possession of the puck and pull Evin out of the net. This gave the Raiders a 6-on-5 advantage until Yale gained control of the puck. Colgate held the puck away from Yale for a good half minute, then they were able to strike.
Robbie Bourdon switched off with Nathan Sinz, leaving him the puck near the end boards. Sinz then hit Francois Brisebois at the top of the circle. Brisebois was able to wrist it past Billy Blase in net and get Colgate back into the game, 2-1 at 15:59.
A Colgate icing with only 24 seconds left in the first period seemed innocent enough at the time, however, the period is not over until the buzzer sounds. Yale won the face off and controlled the puck.
Denny Kearney was able to put the puck on net with less than five seconds left, Evin made a diving save, but the rebound flopped out to Broc Little. Little had an empty net and was able to put the puck in with just one second remaining on the clock. That huge swing of momentum put Yale up 3-1 to end the first period.
Anytime you can get a goal (in the final minute), it has a psychological advantage, said Yale head coach Keith Allain. That one in particular was huge.
The second period was fairly even, consisting of a 5-on-3 chance for Colgate in which they were not able to capitalize. Yale was again able to get one of those big goals Allain was talking about, scoring with just 57 seconds left in the period. Sean Backman picked up the puck in the corner and cut across the high slot. Backman was able to beat Evin to the five-hole, and Yale was up 4-1. Assists were awarded to Andrew Miller and Brian ONeill.
Our power play has failed us when we have needed it, said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. If it was better we couldve got one and hung around. But the 5-on-3 was the turning point.
Yales power play, on the other hand, was strong throughout the game. Early in the third, during a carryover Colgate penalty, Yale cashed in. Alex Evin made a few scrambling saves, but a shot by Yales Jimmy Martin from the point left a big rebound out in front, where Broc Little was able to put it in. This gave Yale a 5-1 lead with just 18:31 left in the game.
Any time youre playing a good team like that, special teams are a big factor, Allain said. We were fortunate they were working for us tonight.
Tensions continued to rise on both ends of the ice, as big hits began to pile up. Colgate seemed to begin to play with more desperation, taking more and more chances as time was winding down on them. Colgate was able to put one home on the power play. Thomas Larkin worked the puck to David McIntyre. McIntyre skated out of the left corner and passed it out in front to Robbie Bourdon. Bourdon was able to wrist a shot over Blases shoulder with just under five minutes left.
Youd like to play that way the entire game, not just in the last few minutes, said Vaughan. We need that intensity from the drop of the puck. We have to turn that aspect around.
Yale thwarted any hopes of a Colgate comeback just 1:23 later when Backman scored his second of the game.
Colgate was able to put one more in before the night ended as Francois Brisebois scored his second of the game. He picked up the puck in the Yale offensive zone and was able to circle out to the hash marks and beat Blase with 2:43 left in the game.
The game ended 6-3 in favor of the Bulldogs, but not without a few post whistle scraps in the last couple of minutes resulting in a few coincidental penalties.
Both teams are in action tomorrow night, as Yale heads off to play a highly anticipated game at Cornell while Colgate will try to get back on track as they host Brown. Both games will start at 7 p.m.