Yale Takes Game 1 At Harvard
BOSTON, Mass. – The Bulldogs picked a great time to net their first win in overtime. Sophomore Kenny Agostino's 15-foot wrister at 3:49 of the extra session gave the Yale men's hockey team a 2-1 win over Harvard in game one of the ECAC Tournament Quarterfinal, best-of-three series at Bright Hockey Center.
Agostino got the puck after Kevin Peel sent it up the boards on the left to Antoine Laganiere, who was coming over the red line. Jesse Root took the defense with him on the left, while Laganiere sent a crossing pass to the high slot for Agostino. The Eli forward had time and space as Harvard goalie Raphael Girard (42 saves) came out to cut off the angle.
Agostino, looking for his 14th of the year, fired it into the net to give the Bulldogs their first overtime win of the year and give the visitors an opportunity to close out the series on Saturday night.
"Jesse Root did a great job of driving the defense. I had a lot of time," said Agostino, put three shots on net tonight. I had my mind made up to go top left when I got it. He came out a little and that's why it may have gone under his [Girard's] arm."
No. 6 seed Yale outshot No. 3 Harvard 44-33 and got 32 saves from junior goalie Nick Maricic, who earned second star honors after making 14 of his saves in the third and three more in the extra session. He stopped both Crimson advantages and numerous grade-A chances. The only goal Maricic gave up was an attempted clearing toss mistakenly knocked in by a Yale defenseman.
"It's hard to win on the road. Harvard played extremely hard tonight," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach. "Our guys understand what you have to do to win the playoffs."
The only goal of a very fast (on the ice and on the clock) first period came from a pair of Yale freshmen and a sophomore working together. Freshman Anthony Day's shot from the point bounced off Girard and out to sophomore Clinton Bourbonais, who moved it over to Trent Ruffolo using his skate. Ruffolo reached out to get the puck and then sent it low into the net at 15:50 for his third goal.
Second-year skater Jesse Root had a great chance to make it 2-0 late in the frame but clanged a shot off the pipe. This was one of the "almost" moments for Yale in the end-to-end action with very few whistles that made for such a great 20 minutes of hockey.
Both goalies needed big first periods to prevent more than a goal in the period. Both stopped well-run power plays, but Girard had five more saves than his counterpart. Harvard had a number of sniper shots among the eight that went on target. Maricic made an excellent stop on the advantage and came up with an even bigger one with 61 seconds left.
The Bulldogs did everything in the second period but score. A relentless fore-check and aggressive back-checking kept the puck in the home end most of the time as Yale outshot Harvard 14-8. It looked like the visitors would take the one-goal lead into the second intermission until Danny Biega flipped a shot on net from the point that bounced off Maricic in traffic. Luke Greiner was closest to the puck when the defensive mishap occurred with 27 seconds left.
"The shot hit me in the hip and then went behind me. [Colin] Dueck tried to clear it but it hit [Tommy] Fallen and went in," said Maricic.
Yale and Harvard each had 14 shots on target in another fast frame (3rd period) with great saves and close chances at both ends. Laganiere had the Blue's best opportunity midway through with a mid-slot snap shot that was deflected by a defender's stick.
At the other end, Maricic was knocking away shots all over the place. Grenier had the best move of the period when he took a pass in the left circle, deked to create space and came in on the Yale net. The junior goalie stuck his blocker out at the last second to end that threat. Then there was Colin Blackwell's one-timer from the mid slot with under four minutes left that sailed wide as the Yale fans caught their collective breath. Maricic also had to make a save on Alex Fallstrom with 20 seconds left, but that one was much less serious than the others.
"The D did a good job keeping them to the outside. Most of the shots were coming from the boards and from the perimeter. That made my job much easier," said Maricic.
The last time the Blue won in OT Chad Ziegler scored to beat Air Force in the 2011 East Regional semifinal at Bridgeport… The Elis had 14 shots on goal in each period of regulation… Yale went with the same lineup that played all three games in last weekend's Princeton series… In other ECAC playoff action, Colgate beat Quinnipiac, Union got past RPI and Cornell outlasted Dartmouth in double OT.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Jason Grohoske image of Kenny Agostino celebrating OT goal