Yale Beats Princeton 4-2
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – It may have been a No. 6 seed against a No. 11 in game one of an ECAC Hockey first-round, best-of-three series, but this was a close call the entire way. The favored Yale men's team got a goal and an assist from defenseman Colin Dueck and 25 saves from Nick Maricic in a 4-2 win over Princeton at Ingalls Rink.
The game between the two Ancient Eight rivals was played as close as the box score indicated. The Bulldogs (14-13-3), unbeaten in its last five outings, had the edge (33-27) in shots while both squads found the net on one man-advantage. The Tigers (8-15-7) never let the home team feel comfortable, which has happened in each of the four meetings this season.
Brian O'Neill, Nick Jaskowiak, Antoine Laganiere were the other Elis who scored, Jesse Root added a pair of helpers as Yale became tonight's only home winner in the ECAC playoffs and is within one game of the conference quarterfinal round. Game two is Saturday at 7, and tickets will be available when Ingalls opens at 5:30 p.m.
"We came out with energy and created a lot of chances," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach, whose team hit the pipe three times and created opportunities with a fantastic fore-check. "That's the way you have to come out in the playoffs. We created a lot of chances by creating turnovers. We could have produced more goals."
In a game full of grade-A scoring chances (Yale had a 19-14 edge), the goalies may have been the biggest story. Maricic, who earned his first post-season victory, had double-digit saves in two of the three periods. The junior netminder stopped 11 shots, including eight grade-A opportunities, in the middle frame.
"He [Maricic] gave us the kind of game we needed in goal," said Allain. "They made a push and he stood tall for us."
At times, Sean Bonar stood on his head in the Princeton net, finishing with 29 saves.
There were busy (27 total shots on goal) goalies at both ends of an exciting first period which left Yale with a 2-0 lead. O'Neill gave the Blue the lead 6:12 in by banging home a puck sitting in the low slot in heavy traffic. He had to fight off a defender to get his stick on the puck, which was available after Dueck's shot from the point was re-directed by Root in the lower left circle.
Yale, despite having 11 of the game's first 13 shots on target, took more than 10 minutes to increase the lead. This time it came off a faceoff in the left circle. Root took the puck behind the net and started to fall as he saw Dueck open and entering the right circle from the point. Root fed the defenseman cleanly and Dueck sent a low wrister past Bonar's blocker at 16:38. The Princeton goalie stopped 15 of the 17 shots on target.
"Root was behind the net and I yelled for it," said Dueck, who enjoyed his first collegiate multiple-point night a week after sitting out the last two regular season games with an injury. "He got me the puck and I was trying to go far side. I don't score many goals, so I'm always surprised when it goes in."
The Elis had other opportunities – like three mini-breakaways – and numerous odd-man rushes. Antoine Laganiere and Josh Balch both intercepted passes and created great chances that were bare misses and quality Bonar stops.
The Tigers outshot the Bulldogs 12-7 in a two-goal second frame, but this time Maricic came up with the big period stopping 11 shots and giving up a goal that sailed through traffic from the left circle on a power play.
The Blue had trouble staying out of the penalty box, and it cost them on the fifth infraction. Rob Kleebaum scored at 14:28 to cut the lead in half. Yale got it back nearly two minutes later on its fourth advantage. Nick Jaskowiak's off-speed slap shot from the point sailed over the Tiger goalie's shoulder with 3:33 left in the second.
Princeton cut the margin to 3-2 on a Jeff Berger re-direction in the low slot at 4:20. Marc Hagel flipped the puck in front of the Yale net from the left boards and Berger managed to get his stick around a defender and flick it past Maricic.
Bonar went to the bench for the extra skater with 77 seconds left, but the Tigers didn't produce any pressure on the Yale net. When the puck bounced out to center ice, Laganiere scooped it up and raced ahead of the defense to deposit it in the empty net from a few feet away with a minute left.
"We put them on their heels with the fast start. The chances were there. We have to keep shooting and they will start going in more," said Laganiere, who has a career-high 13 goals this year.
Brian O'Neill notched his 20th goal of the season and the 68th of his career. He is now one goal behind Mark Kaufmann for sixth place on the school's career list… Yale and Princeton are now even at 3-3 in all-time post-season meetings… Yale has won 10 of its last 13 ECAC post-season games.
Report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Nick Maricic image by Nicholas Carlino