PRINCETON, N.J. — Its not how you start, its how you come back.
Fifth ranked Yale rebounded from a slow start tonight at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink by scoring six unanswered goals to top host Princeton by a 7-4 count.
The Bulldogs, who stretched their winning streak to seven games, defeated Princeton for the third time this season, including a non-conference victory here back in October.
They are explosive, and they can bury pucks, said Princeton head coach Guy Gadowsky.
Yale freshman goaltender Nick Maricic picked up the win 23 saves, while senior netminder Zane Kalemba took the loss for the Tigers with 22 stops. Yale also went 2-for-3 on the power play in clinching both the ECAC regular season championship and the Ivy League title with the win.
We set four goals at the beginning of the year, and weve fulfilled two of them, said Yale senior forward Sean Backman, who scored two goals and set up another.
Winning a championship is a thrill, said Yale head coach Keith Allain, himself a former Bulldog goaltender. What satisfies me (as a coach) is seeing the kids work so hard and sacrifice; you want to see them get rewarded.
Kalemba made an early point-blank save at the left post on Mark Arcobello to start things off.
The two teams were then skating 4-on-4 when Princeton struck first, as Taylor Fedun launched a shot from the right point that Marc Magnowski deflected inside the far post at 8:29 for his seventh goal of the season.
Kalemba turned away Broc Little on a partial breakaway, and the Tigers made it 2-0 less than three minutes later. Kevin Lohry fed Marc Hagel in the slot, and Hagel put the puck past Maricic at 11:23 for his fifth of the campaign.
Give them credit, said Allain of Princeton. They came out and played strong.
The Bulldogs got one back at 14:11 when Backman notched his 20th goal and ninth power-play tally of the year. With Hagel in the box for boarding, Backman intercepted an attempted clear at the left point, fought off a check as he skated along the blue line, and then finally let go with a slapper from the right circle that Kalemba got his glove on, but still had enough force to carry over the goal line.
I was just trying to get it on net, said Backman. It was hard enough that he got a piece of it, but it trickled in.
Princeton would go back up by a pair at 18:33. The puck squirted into the right circle, where Jody Pederson whirled and fired it in for his third goal.
Zane made a couple of great saves, and we buried a few, said Gadowsky of the early going.
The home advantage increased to three goals early in the second stanza. Mike Kramer carried the puck down the right side and into the circle, then sent it across to Mike Sdao who was barreling down the slot. The freshman defenseman shoveled it home at 4:15 for his fifth of the campaign.
Yale then started to show why it stands in first place in the ECAC, and has averaged better than four goals per game. Backman cut the deficit to two when he beat Kalemba from above the right circle at 10:28 off assists from Brian ONeill and Andrew Miller.
Brian left me a great drop pass, said Backman. I got room to shoot and got it on net, and it went in far side.
Sean is a leader for us in so many ways, said Allain. His passion and energy are infectious.
The visitors then pulled within a goal after Pederson was whistled off for interference. Denny Kearney skated out of the right corner and went cross-ice to Arcobello, who one-timed the puck in at 14:25. Broc Little also picked up an assist on the goal, Arcobellos 11th this season
The tide sort of changed, and there were a couple of chances we missed, said Gadowsky. Theyre a tough team to stop when they get rolling.
The Bulldogs finally forged a tie at 17:33, with Backman again figuring in the scoring when he assisted on ONeills 12th goal.
I dont think anyone was happy when we were down 4-1,” said Allain. Rather than panic, we simplified our game, and that helped us get back into it.”
Weve been in this situation before, said Backman. We knew if we stuck to our game, we would climb out.
The goals kept coming for Yale after the intermission. The Bulldogs took their first lead of the night just 10 seconds into the third period when a shot by Arcobello glanced off of Little standing at the right post and went in. It was Littles team-leading 25th tally.
Yale (19-6-3 overall, 15-4-2 in the ECAC) wasnt finished yet. Antoine Laganiere made it 6-4 exactly two minutes into the third when he took a pass at the Princeton blue line, skated in alone on Kalemba, and beat him with a forehand deke for his sixth goal of the season.
Laganiere then set up Yales seventh and final score as linemate Chad Ziegler jammed home a loose puck at 9:14, at which point freshman netminder Mike Condon replaced Kalemba and finished with four saves.
Both schools will wrap up the regular season tomorrow, with Princeton (11-14-3, 7-12-2) hosting Brown in a matinee and Yale visiting Quinnipiac. Both Brown and Princeton remain a point behind Harvard for the final ECAC home-ice playoff slot, while Yale will host the lowest-remaining seed in two weeks.
A win tomorrow would be huge, said Backman. Then well get a bye week and get ready for the second round.