Rondeau Blanks Crimson With 34 Saves
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – It was a classic defensive struggle in an ancient rivalry in front of a sellout crowd at a historic venue. The No. 2/3 Yale men's hockey team, which remained in first place by a point, took advantage of an opportunity and the atmosphere to notch a crucial, 1-0 win over Harvard at Ingalls Rink in ECAC Hockey play.
Captain Jimmy Martin's goal at 5:36 of the third period was the ultimate reason why the Bulldogs improved to 18-4 (12-3 ECAC). Another big reason was Ryan Rondeau, who stopped a season-high 34 shots, including 25 over the last 40 minutes.
Rondeau, who blanked the Crimson on three advantages, had to make two of his biggest saves killing off a penalty that occurred with 3:54 left in the game. That helped him register his third shutout of the season.
Harvard (4-17, 3-13), swept by the Blue this season, got a great performance from Ryan Carroll, who also had 34 saves.
"They were trapping a little bit and did a good job in the neutral zone. We had to make sure we were patient," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, whose team had a 35-34 edge in shots. "A good team finds a way to win when everything is not clicking."
Both teams had nine shots on goal in a scoreless first period that included two man-advantages for Yale and one for the Crimson. One of the Yale power plays was the best scoring chance of the frame. A mixup at the point quickly turned into a breakaway for Rence Coassin (Hamden, Conn.), whose shot was knocked aside by Rondeau with 6:30 left.
The Bulldogs, who did a great job of staying out of the box all game, buzzed the Harvard end for a few minutes of the opening period, and the crowd really got into the flurry. Carroll came up with a few big stops but there were few close calls.
The visitors outshot the Elis 12-11 in the second and once again had the best scoring opportunity. Pier-Olivier Michaud's point-blank snap shot was stopped by the Yale goalie midway through the second. The Bulldogs again had two of the three advantages but couldn't generate any grade-A chances.
The Elis opened the third with a power play and a great offensive surge which immediately resulted in pucks toward the net. Colin Dueck's shot from the point hit pipe, Brian O'Neill had a quality attempt off angle and then Carroll had to swipe a Kevin Peel shot out of traffic. That helped set up the goal.
The Yale fore-check was clicking and making it tough for Crimson players to move into the Yale end. After forcing a faceoff in the visitor's end, freshman Jesse Root won his biggest draw of his young collegiate career.
Root swiped the puck between his own legs back to the point where Martin was ready to push the puck toward the net. The senior blueliner took a few steps and sent a low snap shot through traffic that found an opening between Carroll's legs.
Rondeau needed two big saves midway through the third on Chris Huxley and Ryan Grimshaw to retain the lead during a Harvard push. His most significant stop, however, may not have actually been a save. After a defenseman blocked a shot, the puck trickled toward the goal line and Rondeau dove to his right to stop it with 11:14 left. The referee, who never put his arm out to signal a goal, strangely had the PA announcer tell the crowd that there was no goal, even though the lamp never lit. The officials then gathered and decided to take a look at the video.
"That was a scary moment," said Rondeau. "But I never thought they would change it because I saw the referee wave his arms when I grabbed it."
All game long the Bulldogs did a great job of winning the loose pucks, getting sticks in the shooting lanes and doing all the small things that are really big things in a close game. Junior forward Chad Ziegler deserves some credit for a number of impactful and clean hits that kept the Crimson off balance. Ziegler and linemates Kenny Agostino and Root had a good overall night.
Things got pretty hairy at 16:06 when Charles Brockett was called for hitting from behind. Harvard managed only two shots on target because Bulldogs were dropping in front of shots all over the place and Rondeau was seeing the puck so well.
"Our penalty-kill was solid. When you get a big kill like that, it's huge. We kept them off balance and won some of the loose pucks," said Allain.
After that kill, the Eli fore-check took over and ran out the clock. Carroll was pulled with a timeout and 21 ticks on the clock, but Harvard could not carry the puck into the Yale end.
"Ryan [Rondeau] was solid," said Allain. "He was seeing it well. He either controlled the rebound or put it in a good area. He had good awareness of everyone on the ice."
Bulldog Bites: Yale retained its one-point lead over Union, which beat Princeton 7-4… Mike Matczak skated in his 100th career game tonight… This was the eighth straight sellout at Ingalls this season… There are no tickets available for Saturday's game against Dartmouth, which airs live on the YES Network at 7 p.m… The Big Green, 6-1-1 over its last eight, beat Brown tonight 3-0… Ryan Rondeau now has three career shutouts, all of them coming this season… The Bulldogs improved to 13-0 at home this season.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Agostino image by Steve Conn
Video Highlights by David Dikranian: