Miller Scores, Rondeau Stops 31 Shots
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – It's been 43 years since the last Yale hockey team went a season without playing an overtime contest. It's been seven years since a Bulldog squad had a season without a tie. The Elis went 27 games this season before getting their first of both, and they came in the second-to-last game of the regular season in a crucial contest. No. 3 Yale outshot Colgate 40-32 but had to settle for a 1-1 tie before a sold-out Ingalls Rink in ECAC Hockey play.
The one-point earned from the draw kept the Bulldogs (22-5-1, 16-4-1 ECAC) a point behind first-place Union, which skated to a 2-2 tie at home with Quinnipiac. In order for Yale to earn its third straight ECAC regular season title, it will need to take care of business against Cornell Saturday night and hope for help from Princeton in its game against the Dutchmen.
This was a classic battle of veteran vs. newcomer in the nets. Yale senior Ryan Rondeau stopped 31 shots and stood on his head at times to keep the Elis unbeaten (14-0-1) at home. Eric Mihalik, a freshman, turned aside 39 shots, including 22 over the third period and overtime combined.
"The defense played especially well. They blocked a lot of shots and nobody panicked. They played solid in front of the net," said Rondeau, who had 13 saves in the third, including a few heart-stoppers.
Both goals came in the second off the sticks of Yale's Andrew Miller and Austin Mayer of Colgate. The teams were blanked on a combined seven power plays.
The Raiders, now 4-1-1 over their last six games, moved to 7-23-3 overall, 4-14-3 in conference.
The weekend got under way with a wild, scoreless first period that had Yale outshooting Colgate 11-10. Both goalies made saves on three or four grade-A chances. The puck whizzed around the nets at both ends, barely missing on a number of attempts.
Chris Wagner took a long pass at the Yale blueline and went in alone on Rondeau. The Yale netminder held his position and stopped a backhand attempt.
The Blue finally broke through midway through the second when Miller notched his ninth of the year. The sophomore, who took a behind-the back, no look pass from Brian O'Neill, walked in from the boards on the left side and had an opening to keep heading for the net. He held and waited for Mihalik to go down. Miller sent a rising wrister over the goalie's right shoulder at 7:32.
Nobody realized how big that goal was, or how hard it was going to be to get the puck past the freshman goalie.
Other than a 10-minute misconduct on Francois Brisebois in the first, the Raiders avoided being on the penalty-kill until the middle of the second frame. The Raider special teams looked fresh and did not allow a shot on target, while also thwarting a second chance later that period, which helped the visitors even things.
A few minutes after killing off the first advantage, Mayer (3rd goal) and Wagner broke free on an odd-man rush from the blueline. Wagner held for a while and then quickly sent it across to Mayer, who one-timed it past Rondeau at 3:41.
"I came across and then came out to cut down the angle. I just didn't get the push I wanted," said Rondeau.
Mihalik stood on his head in early in the third. He stopped two great chances on a power play to start the period and then two more in the next few minutes. Yale had the edge (18-13) in shots and in quality opportunities.
Rondeau had to shine in the later stages of regulation to keep the score tied. Colgate players came in on him with grade-A chances twice over the last two minutes.
Yale had a 4-1 edge in overtime shots and had its best scoring chance of the night with 1:58 left. That's when Denny Kearney had the puck in the slot looking at an open side of the net. He couldn't get all of his stick on the puck and Mihalik was able to make the play.
"The puck hit me and I tried to find it, knowing the goalie was out of position. He made a good save," said Kearney. "They are a dangerous team that has been playing very well. They did a good job of getting sticks on rebounds."
Both teams also did a great job of finishing checks. There was also a lot emotional contact that kept the officials very busy all night.
"We didn't execute on our rush opportunities as well as we would like to," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. "We got quality chances, but their goalie played really well."
BULLDOG BITES: Tonight was the 10th straight sellout at Ingalls Rink this season… Tomorrow night's game is completely sold out, but there are tickets available for the March 11-13 ECAC Quarterfinal Playoff Series (opponent TBA), and they are being sold Saturday night at Ingalls… Saturday night is Senior Night for nine members of the Yale squad playing their final regular season games at Ingalls Rink… Former Yale defenseman Daryl Jones '98 helped call the action on the yalebulldogs.com broadcast of the Colgate game.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
image of Miller scoring the Yale goal by Don Clark