O'Neill Helps Blue Beat Tigers
4 Points For Captain, 2 Goals by Laganiere
PRINCETON, N.J. – Brian O'Neill grew up a few miles from Hobey Baker Rink in Yardley, Pa., and had a group of 40 family and friends rooting for him and his team on the ice he feels so comfortable on. The Yale captain looked at home with four points, having a hand on four of his squad's five goals in the Bulldogs' 5-2 ECAC Hockey win at Princeton.
The Elis (13-13-2, 10-10-1 ECAC), winners of three straight with one game left in the regular season, broke open a 2-2 game in the second period with three straight goals while outshooting the Tigers 43-28. Yale, which can finish anywhere from fifth to eighth in the final standings and is currently seventh, had great performances from a number of players in addition to O'Neill, who had a goal and three helpers.
"Coach [Allain] switched up the lines and we were really feeding off that," said O'Neill, who played about 20 games at Baker Rink before leaving for college. "Our transition game carried over from last weekend. We got pucks deep and could have had more goals. Their goalie played very well and deserves credit for giving up just four."
"It was a gutsy, team effort," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. "I thought we won each period, which is big on the road. We were opportunistic in transition and solid defensively, not allowing many opportunities."
Yale junior goalie Nick Maricic stopped 26 of 27 shots and all four Princeton advantages to earn his third straight victory.
A fast-paced first period with end-to-end action ended with Yale leading 2-1 despite being outshot 12-10. The Bulldogs, who were buzzing with a great fore-check, got on the board first when Laganiere took a feed from O'Neill along the boards near the Princeton blueline. The junior forward skated down the middle a step in front of the last defender. Laganiere came in fast and never took a shot, he just let the puck continue forward and it went through Mike Condon's legs for a power-play tally at 3:20.
The Tigers evened things with a fortunate bounce of the puck along the boards on an attempted Yale clear. It landed on the stick of Andrew Calof, who had both Princeton goals, in the right circle with no defender in the way of the net. He put it past Maricic at 4:52.
The Blue grabbed the lead again at 16:51 on a scramble on the doorstep. O'Neill passed the puck off Condon's pads and it sat in the crease until Young and Kenny Agostino both swiped at it. Young got his stick on it a split second ahead of Agostino for his third of the year.
Princeton, which turned up its fore-check a notch in the second, turned a penalty-kill into momentum for the second equalizer. Young got caught trying to step up and intercept a pass that turned into a mini-breakaway for Calof, who came in from the right boards on the blueline and waited for Yale's other defenseman to give him some space. Calof showed patience in looking for a small hole to shoot at and sending it low stick side inside the far post at 11:28.
The 2-2 score lasted exactly two minutes. Nick Jaskowiak picked off a Princeton pass and then fired a long lead pass to O'Neill, who was two steps from the Tigers' blueline when he got the puck on his stick. The Yale captain skated in alone, waited for Condon (38 saves) to commit and then tucked it five-hole at 13:28.
The visitors could have upped the margin to two later in the frame with 76 seconds of 5-on-3 hockey. Fourteen of Yale's 23 second-period shots rang everywhere on the advantage, but nothing found the back of the net. The Elis continued to pour the rubber on Condon in the third with four or five grade-A chances that the junior goalie turned aside.
Maricic made a few huge stops on a late Princeton advantage, which turned out to be the home team's last quality chance at tying the game for a final time.
O'Neill made another great play to set up Yale's fourth goal. He skated in over the blueline, put on the breaks, got tripped by the defenseman, jumped up and zipped the puck to Jesse Root (2 assists). Root moved it over to Laganiere, who finished off his second of the game with 5:13 left.
"There is a sense of urgency with my college career winding down. I want to make the most of it," said O'Neill, who now has 67 career tallies.
Yale will be home to host a first round playoff series next weekend, the opponent will be determined Saturday night… Chad Ziegler's name didn't show up on the score sheet tonight, but he had a performance worth mentioning. Allain said, "[Chad] Zieger made a lot of plays tonight. He won a lot of races and made a lot of big hits. He was a dominant player in this game."… Last weekend the Blue suited up seven defensemen and 11 forwards on both nights. Yale was back to the normal alignment at Princeton, though there was one change: F Nicholas Weberg was in the lineup tonight, D Colin Dueck was not… The Bulldogs are in Hamden, Conn., tomorrow to take on Quinnipiac at 7 in the regular season finale… Charles Brockett's younger brother, Tucker, is a freshman on the Princeton team and centered the fourth line.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
O'Neill image by Shelley Szwast