Elis Give Seniors Fine Sendoff
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – If it happens to be the last home game for the seniors, it will be one they'll never forget. Five different Bulldogs hit the net and Nick Maricic stopped 25 of 26 shots as the Yale men's hockey team finished off the home regular season with a 7-1 victory over archrival Harvard on senior night and alumni weekend before an overflow crowd at Ingalls Rink.
The win moved Yale (12-13-2, 9-10-1 ECAC) into a seventh place tie with St. Lawrence at 19 points, one point behind Quinnipiac and two behind the Crimson (8-8-11, 6-5-9) with one weekend left. The Bulldogs, who can finish as high as fourth and as low as ninth, can clinch home ice for the first round of the playoffs with one more win.
There were 23 penalties resulting in 65 minutes of box time in one of the hardest hitting and emotionally charged games of the year. The Elis converted three of their 11 advantages, while Harvard's daunted power play went 1-for-4.
"We wanted to be the aggressor, that was our message tonight," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach. "This was a great way to honor our seniors. There was a great commitment out there and we played with great passion."
Yale outshot Harvard 12-3 in the first period and produced three goals despite missing on both power plays.
O'Neill, who seemed to be everywhere the puck was, made the first goal of the night happen. He saved a clear attempt along the left boards, wheeled around at the blueline and zipped between two defenders. When he got to the left edge of the crease, he sent a backhanded pass to Antoine Laganiere. The big junior wing gathered the pass and then quickly wristed it into the net from the opposite doorstep at 8:26 for his 10th of the season.
O'Neill was at it again to make it 2-0 at 10:40. He carried over the blueline wide and then hit Agostino, who moved it over again to a teammate streaking toward the left side of the cage. Agostino's pass hit Andrew Miller with his backhand ready to re-direct the feed into the open side of the net. It was Miller's sixth of the year.
Laganiere made the third goal happen with a great move along the boards to retain a pass from Colin Dueck on the breakout. The pass nearly was picked by a Crimson player, but Laganiere first-touched to himself and then grabbed it and looked up to see Agostino full steam toward the other end. The pass hit him in stride ahead of the defense and Agostino did the rest with a sniper-like laser over Steve Michalek's (11 saves) shoulder at 18:09.
The visitors, who spent almost half the middle frame killing off penalties, began the second with a golden opportunity to cut into the deficit because Yale was called for simultaneous penalties in the closing seconds of the opening frame. They cashed in the first chance with Danny Biega's long wrister to make it 3-1.
Instead of getting another on the second advantage, the Bulldogs killed it off and then scored immediately to re-gain the three-goal margin. Gus Young poked the puck out of the Yale end and Brocket raced after it with one red jersey with him. The Eli won the race and quickly flipped it over to Limbert, who was trailing on the play. Limbert went in alone on Michalek and snapped off a low shot past his glove at 1:50.
"We both had a ton of speed and the goalie had to make a decision. I froze him with a fake shot and then let it fly," said Limbert, who had his first two-goal game in college.
Agostino's second of the night was sparked by a nice O'Neill crossing feed before the Harvard blueline. Agostino went in with space along the left side and unleashed a rising shot that made it 5-1 and sent Michalek to the bench in favor of Raphael Girard (19 saves) at 8:48.
Somehow, Harvard still managed to outshoot (14-9) the Blue in the period. A bunch of those shots came on a five-minute advantage (Chad Ziegler infraction), but the Cantabs could not find the net. Maricic, who held the nation's top power-play unit to one score, came up with 13 big stops.
"We had a good, intense defense tonight. We were swarming in our zone and didn't give them any space," said Allain.
The third period was more hard hitting and lots of quality saves at both ends. Limbert got his second with a rebound put-back at 18:31, and Anthony Day one-timed a great Agostino power-play feed to put the finishing touches on the blowout.
This was Yale's largest margin of victory over Harvard since a 7-1 game in 1998… Dartmouth broke Yale's streak of outshooting opponents at seven games, but the Blue got back on track tonight…. Yale bounced back from a 1-for-13 weekend power play at Colgate/Cornell with six goals this weekend… Brian O'Neill notched his 150th career point with 1-2-3 against the Big Green and now has 153… Andrew Miller's two assists on Friday moved him to 4th on the Yale career list (86, tied with Denny Kearney)… Kevin Peel jumped over Daryl Jones for 11th place on the Yale blueliner list with his 47th career point tonight… Freshman F Anthony Day notched his first collegiate point with an assist on Friday's first goal and then added his first career goal on Saturday… Forty former players participated in the 2011-12 Yale Hockey Alumni Game this morning at IngallsThe Bulldogs are on the road next week to complete the 2011-12 regular season with games at Princeton and Quinnipiac… Saturday's game at Hamden airs live on SNY TV.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Image: Antoine Laganiere scores in the first period (by Don Clark)