Miller Gets Two Against Big Red
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The first undefeated regular season at Ingalls Rink came to an end with a bang in a big game. The No. 3 Yale men's hockey team broke open a scoreless game with three second-period goals en route to a 4-1 win over Cornell before a packed house enjoying a classic ECAC rivalry.
The Bulldogs (23-5-1, 17-4-1 ECAC), winners of seven straight against the Big Red (13-13-3, 11-9-2), earned their best (35) conference point total with the win. However, the victory in the regular season finale still landed the Elis in second place, a point behind Union (5-0 win over Princeton).
"I thought we controlled the play for most of the game," said Little, one of nine seniors playing his final regular season home game. "It's been a while since we put a full 60 minutes together. We knew we were playing our game and knew the goals would come."
The Yale power play was clicking, and producing plenty of shots (8 on goal), but the Elis only converted one of seven. Fortunately for the home team, its penalty-kill was very effective in killing off all four Big Red attempts.
Ryan Rondeau made only 18 saves, but he needed to come up with a number of quality stops to get Yale its 23rd win of the year. He and the Elis will host a conference quarterfinal series on March 11-13.
At the other end, Michael Garman (38 saves) stood on his head for the first half of the game until the Blue finally blasted through. Without his solid play, this could have been a blowout.
There may have been end-to-end action in the scoreless first frame, but the end that saw the most action had Garman in net. The junior goalie stopped all 14 shots and two very good Yale power plays that produced pucks from all angles. The Bulldog fore-check was working so well, and they were protecting the puck so well with great passes, Cornell didn't get many chances around Rondeau, who had five saves.
Yale, in the second, finally broke through on its fifth advantage. Brian O'Neill fed Miller on the left point and waited to see if the Big Red defense would close on him. He took a few more steps toward the goal and then unleashed a low snap shot to make it 1-0.
Garman was still making great saves, like one on O'Neill's wrister from the middle slot with 6:58 left, but the Elis quickly got two more past him.
Bourbonais, who has been patiently waiting for his opportunity to contribute late in his rookie season, showed why he now has three goals in his eight games played. Chad Ziegler made the scoring opportunity with his behind-the-back, backhanded lead pass that hit the freshman just before the blueline. Bourbonais took a few strides to the slot and sent a low snap shot off the left post and into the back of the net with 4:19 left.
Sixty-six seconds later Little lit the fuse on a booming crowd by slipping the puck five-hole on Garman to make it 3-0. Denny Kearney passed the puck from Yale's defensive zone. Kevin Limbert got his stick on it and directed it ahead to Little. It had to go over a Cornell stick but caught Little just as he got to the Cornell blueline. The senior forward raced in and notched his 15th of the year at 16:47.
The home team had all the momentum, a 3-0 lead and it was going on another advantage. But this power play would turn on the Elis. Cornell caught the Yale point men pinching and connected on a long pass that became a shorthanded tally with 1:50 left in the second. Locke Jillson passed it to Greg Miller, who had to stretch his entire body to stop the puck on his stick. Miller gathered and then went in alone before tucking a shot through Rondeau's legs.
Both goalies made big saves in the third to keep the game at 3-1, though the Elis had a 12-3 edge in shots. When the Big Red got a power-play opportunity late in the frame, it pulled Garman for the extra skater. Miller took advantage and got to a loose puck near center ice. With two defenders closing in on him, he fired it into the middle of the net with 2:07 left to clinch the win.
"I really liked the way we played tonight," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. "We had energy, everyone was going and we played smart. It was a good Yale hockey game."
BULLDOG BITES: Yale celebrated its senior class prior to the faceoff with an announcement…Tonight was the 12th straight Ingalls Rink sellout this season… The only lineup change for Yale from Friday was Clinton Bourbonais in for Jesse Root on the Kenny Agostino-Chad Ziegler line… The Elis are now 15-0-1 at Ingalls this year… Yale finished 4-0-1 in its last five outings… Yale remains No. 1 in the PairWise Rankings, slightly ahead of North Dakota and Boston College… The Blue came up one point shy of its third straight ECAC regular season title.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director