Bulldogs Dominate Saints
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Bulldogs have earned their second trip to the ECAC Hockey Championship Weekend in three years after taking the deciding contest of a best-of-three series at Ingalls Rink. The No. 3 Yale men's team used goals from four different players and 21 saves from Ryan Rondeau to beat St. Lawrence 4-0 and advance to Friday's semifinals at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall.
Yale, the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, becomes the highest remaining seed after three other series deciding games tonight. The Elis face Colgate, which upset top-seeded Union, Friday at 4:30 pm, while Dartmouth and Cornell square off at 7:30 in the other semifinal.
The Bulldogs (25-6-1), who set a school record with its 25th victory, peppered the Saints goalie with 42 shots while giving up just 21.
Chris Cahill, Brian O'Neill, Kevin Limbert and Broc Little, all of whom had two points, found the net while the team's defensive effort turned into Yale's first post-season shutout since the 2009 conference championship game at Albany. Rondeau and company stopped all seven SLU power plays, limiting the visitors to nine shots on their advantages.
The Saints (13-22-5) got 38 saves from Matt Weninger, who needed 18 stops in the second period to keep them in the game.
"We got better every period in this series," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. "Last night set us up for today. Our approach to every game is must win, which really helps us."
The Bulldogs, who came out flying and put their first shot on target just seven seconds into the contest, cashed in their first two advantages to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
The first came at 2:41. O'Neill shot from the left circle was stopped by Weninger, but the rebound came out on the edge of the crease where a few players were whacking and kicking at it. Kenny Agostino got a skate on it and moved it off the right post. Cahill was waiting for something to break from the scrum and it happened to be the puck sitting on the doorstep. The senior wing reached out and tapped it home for his 13th of the year.
Yale did it again on its next power play nearly five minutes later. Andrew Miller, skating just inside the blueline, sent a pretty lead pass to O'Neill, who was heading through the circle. The junior forward picked up speed with the puck and swooped through the low slot coiling to fire. When the SLU goalie committed, O'Neill (18th) fired it past his glove at 7:24.
"We got off to a good start. The first goal really is an important one in a game like this," said O'Neill, who leads the team with 18 goals. "I think they [SLU] were a little worn out and we typically wear teams down."
The Yale special teams really did its job in the first, killing off four penalties. Rondeau came up with a number of huge point-blank stops to keep SLU off the board.
For the third straight night, the Elis tallied three straight times. Limbert, after a Denny Kearney shot from the left, found a rebound on the right and an open side of the net to deposit his eighth goal of the season at 4:44 of the second. That just got the momentum going again in Yale's favor as the Blue outshot the Saints 20-4 in the middle frame.
Little (17th) made it four straight for the home team with the help of a home-team bounce. He raced into the left circle and fired a high shot that glanced off Weninger's shoulder, bounced up and landed on the ice behind him. The freshman netminder moved back toward the goal line, not knowing where the puck was, and kicked it into the net at 5:48, just 64 seconds after Limbert's goal.
"They [Little, Limbert, Kearney] were our best line all weekend," said Allain, who is now 11-8 in post-season games for Yale. "They did everything, a new group of heroes for us. This line was very special this weekend."
Yale outshot SLU 9-6 in the scoreless final frame but came close on a number of grade-A chances. The Elis were more than happy to run out the clock and get focused on the next goal on the Jersey Shore.
"We are really pumped to have a chance to win the league tournament," said captain Jimmy Martin. "St. Lawrence was a great test and they gave us a great battle. We have a veteran team and they know how to be focused. We played with a sense of desperation when our backs were against the wall."
BULLDOG BITES: Yale finished the year 17-1-1 at Ingalls... Broc Little finished the weekend with 2 goals and 7 points... The last Yale-SLU quarterfinal series to go three games was in 1997-98 when the squads tied (different format) twice before the Elis took game three at the Whale… The Blue has now gone to game three of the quarters in two (last year vs. Brown) straight seasons… There were two changes in the Yale lineup from last night: Jesse Root replaced Brendan Mason on the front lines and Ken Trentowski was in for Gus Young on the blueline.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director