Maricic, Root Help Yale to 3-Point Weekend
HAMDEN, Conn. – Jesse Root, who had both Bulldog goals, and Nick Maricic, who made 40 saves, picked a great night to have career outings. The sophomore forward and junior goalie helped the Yale men's hockey team remain unbeaten over the final four games of the regular season with a 2-2 overtime tie before a sellout crowd at Quinnipiac.
The finishing touch on a three-point final conference weekend gave Yale (13-13-3, 10-10-2 ECAC) the sixth seed in the ECAC Hockey playoffs. The Elis are home next weekend to face Princeton in a best-of-three, first-round series that begins Friday night.
Maricic, who stopped 66 of 70 shots this weekend, improved his career-high by seven. He had 15 saves in both the first and third periods at High Point Solutions Arena.
The Bobcats (17-11-6, 9-8-5),who could have earned a first-round bye with a win tonight, outshot Yale 42-30 and scored both of its goals on the advantage. They will host Brown next week.
Quinnipiac goalie Eric Hartzell stopped all three Yale power plays and finished with 28 stops. Two of Root's three shots on target were the only problems for the netminder who beat the Blue 2-1 at New Haven last month.
Both teams had quality scoring chances in a scoreless first frame that had the Bobcats outshooting the Bulldogs 15-10. However, Maricic had to come up with more big stops than Hartzell, including multiple point-blank shots with clear looks. The Yale netminder kicked aside a Kellen Jones snapshot from the slot, his best stop of the 15.
"It's nice to get the shots early, that's what you hope for," said the Yale goalie. "When you can make a good save at the beginning of the game, it really helps you."
Both teams killed off a penalty in the first, but Quinnipiac's advantage carried into the second period with Root in the penalty box. Charles Brockett sent a long pass out of his end as Root dashed out of the bin. He picked it up at the blueline and went in alone on the net before faking right and then tucking it stick side low on Hartzell 29 seconds in.
"I was calling for it as I came out," said Root. "It was a really nice play. He hit me in stride. I had a lot of room to make a move."
The Cats, who went 2-for-6 with the advantage, continued to get the calls in the middle frame. A whistle on Kenny Agostino quickly turned into a perfectly placed Loren Barron one-timer (9:15) from the slot that went just inside the left post.
"That's where they got all their best chances," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach, referring to the Quinnipiac power play. "We had a very short bench and had to kill all those penalties."
The next call was more of a head scratcher, one that gave Quinnipiac five minutes on the power play and sent Antoine Laganiere to the locker room with a game disqualification for contact to head. However, the blow to Yale was softened with its first shorthanded tally of the year.
Clinton Bourbonais stole a pass at the home blueline and went toward the net before flipping a backhander off Hartzell's pads. Root, crashing hard on the play, sent it back low into the net at 10:41 for his sixth of the year and his first collegiate multiple-goal night.
The Cats still managed to use the advantage to even things again on a low crossing feed that left an open side for Connor Jones to use to deposit his brother's feed for their second power-play goal at 13:13.
The Bulldogs had to kill their final penalty with 4:45 left when Kevin Peel went off for a cross check. Maricic came up with four big saves to close out a period where the home team put 10 more shots on net than the visitors.
Allain was impressed with his goalie's play and talked about his potential impact on the post season. "He [Maricic] was much better this weekend than last. We have to keep him focused and hungry and see where that leads us."
Yale only had seven shots on goal over the last 25 minutes. Agostino had a great look at the net from the lower right circle with 52 seconds left in regulation, but his shot went high. The Elis had the only two on target in the extra session.
"I thought we were the stronger team in overtime, and that's very important," said Allain. "Our team has the skill and grit to beat anyone in the league. If our attention is there and our focus is there, we will see [in the playoffs] if we are good enough."
Freshman defenseman Alex Ward was in the lineup for the first time this year. He replaced classmate Bennett Carraccio from Friday's pairings. The other change was Trent Ruffolo for Nicholas Weberg at forward… Yale has a home playoff series for the fifth straight year. This is the first time in four years that it won't include a first-round bye.
Report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Nick Maricic image by Don Clark