Captain Leads Blue to 9-3 Win
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale men's hockey team rang in the New Year by ringing up nine goals, thanks in part to a four-goal outburst by Brian O'Neill (Yardley, Pa.) in a 9-3 win in the first-ever meeting with Bentley before 2,928 today at Ingalls Rink.
The No. 19 Bulldogs (7-5-1), who had a 37-19 advantage in shots, broke open a 3-3 contest with six straight goals. Four consecutive scores came from the stick of Yale's captain, who went from a "natural" hat trick to what might be called an "O'natural" trick.
Yale overcame Bentley's mini-comeback to shut down the Falcons (5-9-3) over the last 36 minutes. That meant keeping them off the scoreboard and allowing just 11 shots over the last two periods. While the defense stepped up its effort, the Blue consistently buzzed the opposing net.
"That's the best we've looked offensively (this year). We created some really, really good opportunities. We didn't do a good job finishing in the first two periods," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. "I was very pleased that we didn't give up a goal in the second half of the game."
Junior goalie Jeff Malcolm, who had 16 saves, needed some big saves to blank the visitors after they had tied the score a few minutes into the middle frame.
Giving up a shorthanded goal can be demoralizing, but the one Bentley tallied to open the scoring only ignited the Bulldogs, who answered with three straight tallies. Falcon skater Justin Breton jumped all over a Tommy Fallen shot from the point that hit a Falcons defender and squirted toward the home net. Breton won the race and tucked the puck inside the right post at 6:17.
It took about four minutes for the Elis to answer, but it was well worth the wait. Two goals 10 seconds apart and a third almost three minutes later sent the momentum Yale's way.
The long reach of a Bulldog evened things at 1-1. Antoine Laganiere (Ile Cadieux, Que.) extended his big body to steal a pass in the Bentley end and then fire a shot from the slot. The rebound popped out to a freshman playing just his second college regular season game. Trent Ruffolo smacked home his first career goal at 10:28 and was back at it just after the ensuing faceoff.
Ruffolo retuned the favor to his linemate by hitting him with a perfect pass. The rookie sent the puck from the boards behind the net and Laganiere one-timed it from the low slot at 10:38 to give the Blue its first lead. That goal was not happening unless Clinton Bourbonais (Dexter, Mich.) drills a Bentley blueliner with the puck along the boards.
The home team took a two-goal advantage later in the first period on a play reminiscent of former Yale All-American Broc Little '11 (on a short break from his Swedish professional team), who happened to be in the stands today along with classmates Denny Kearney and Jeff Anderson. Kenny Agostino (Flanders, N.J.) took the puck along the boards above the circle, wheeled around a defender and got tripped while heading to the dot. The sophomore winger, who had three points, controlled the puck on his knees, jumped to his skates and then launched a wrist shot over Branden Komm's shoulder at 14:03.
The Falcons closed to within one while skating 4-on-4 with 38 seconds left in the first. Brett Gensler tipped in a shot from the point to shift some of the momentum the other way heading into the second frame.
A little over three minutes into the second, the visitors used that shift to even the score. Aaron Stonacek, skating to the outside of the right circle with a defender on him and very little space, snapped off a rising shot that went inside the far post.
O'Neill got in the scoring act with a pair of power-play goals to provide the Blue with another two-goal lead heading into the third. The senior captain converted a one-timer at 13:30 that completed a pretty Yale setup. Andrew Miller (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), who had four assists and jumped a place on the Yale career list with 73, sent a quick pass to Agostino, who turned and found O'Neill ready to wind up and fire.
The Bulldog team leader had more time to think about his second goal. Holding the puck at the point for a moment, O'Neill, who jumped two places into seventh on Yale's career points list with 132, unleashed a low blast with 2:40 left that sailed through some slot traffic and into the back of the net.
His third was a put-back tally and the fourth was a nifty deke and tuck move on a give and go with Miller. His last one marked the first time a Bulldog had reached that mark in a game since Evan Wax against Connecticut in 2003.
"It's nice to see him get some results. He's been playing well and today he got rewarded for his efforts," said Allain of his captain.
The Bulldogs were not done. Bourbonais set up Brad Peltz (Mount Kisco, N.Y.) for his first collegiate regular-season score. The sophomore winger took a back pass in the slot and blasted a shot that went high on Komm's stick side at 10:26 for an 8-3 lead. That chased Komm (24 saves) in favor of Blake Dougherty (4), who would get beat by a Nicholas Weberg (Oslo, Norway) one-timer from the right circle with 2:45 left.
Yale scored twice on four advantages while blanking Bentley on five attempts… Trent Ruffolo's first two collegiate points came 10 seconds apart… Brian O'Neill, who leads the team with nine goals, ranks fourth in the ECAC with that total… The Bulldogs completed their non-conference schedule with a 3-3-1 mark... Yale hosts Quinnipiac and Princeton next weekend at the Whale.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director