Banner Unveiled Before Classic Hockey Game
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – It's hard enough playing with targets on your back from winning the national championship. It's even tougher on the night you celebrate the title while facing a team you swept in last year's conference playoffs. Throw in a pair of two-goal deficits and you have an impressive showing by the Bulldogs in their comeback, home opener, a 3-3 OT tie with St. Lawrence.
Yale trailed 2-0 and 3-1 before charging back over the last half of the game to grab the ECAC point and send a capacity crowd home with a great show. Part of that show was freshman netminder Alex Lyon's 29 saves, including nine in each period of regulation and two big ones in the OT.
The Bulldogs (1-1-1, 0-0-1 ECAC), who had a 37-32 edge in shots, got a team-high two points from captain Jesse Root. SLU goalie Matt Weninger needed 34 saves to prevent his 4-2-1 squad from blowing a chance for conference points.
"Both teams skated hard and left it all on the ice," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach. "They came after us pretty hard. They can skate and they jumped on us early. We did a good job weathering the storm and coming back."
The Saints jumped out to a 2-0 lead on tallies by Woody Hudson (off a Yale defenseman's skate) and Greg Carey in the first 16 minutes.
Junior defenseman Tommy Fallen made the play that created the Yale goal cutting the lead in half with 2:02 left in the first period. He grabbed the puck just outside the Yale blueline, saw senior Kenny Agostino open across the way and sent a perfect pass to him. Agostino took a few strides and used a snap shot to send the puck toward the net. Root was cruising into the crease when the puck arrived and he got his stick on it and re-directed it through Weninger's legs.
"I didn't do anything, he just shot it off my stick," said Root, who got his first goal of the year.
After the visitors used a second-period power play to increase the lead to two again, the Blue struck back. Sophomore Carson Cooper won possession in his own corner and connected with freshman winger Frankie DiChiara, who was heading through the neutral zone. DiChiara then found Anthony Day streaking across the blueline. The junior forward carried the puck and a defender into the left circle before sending a snap shot inside the far post at 8:03.
The Bulldogs, who outshot the Saints 16-10 in the period, stepped up the pressure the rest of the frame, which got them their fifth man advantage at 18:44. It looked as if the Blue would carry it over to the third with time running out. That's when John Hayden grabbed a loose puck on the goal line at the side of the net and then gave it to Root, who quickly moved it to the middle of the crease for defenseman Rob O'Gara. The Eli sophomore, looking for his first career goal, fired low and it hit the back of the net with one second left to even the score at 3-3.
"I don't think we played a full 60 minutes tonight," said Root, who said it was a special feeling skating under the new national championship banner. "We were a little distracted at the start, but it was a good sign that we turned it around."
Both teams put nine shots on net and the goalies stopped them all. Lyon made his toughest save with 8:01 left as an SLU forward unleashed a shot headed for the far post from the left circle. The rookie netminder was asked about the pressure playing on a night like this.
"It's a little daunting, but every recruit wants go to a school that's the best," said Lyon. "Right now we are the reigning champions, so we are the best."
A few minutes after the Lyon save, Eli blueliner Ryan Obuchowski's diving puck check on a near breakaway prevented a goal.
"Our effort was great. Our intelligence didn't match our feet tonight, and I think we've got a ways to go with our team and our system of play," said Allain. "We were getting beat to pucks in the first period and then we started to win some races. I thought we carried the play in the last half of the game."
It was a classic college hockey game with action at both ends and big hits on a regular basis. Such is the life in one of college hockey's premier conferences.
The Yale team – including Josh Balch '13, the only senior from the 2012-13 team who could attend the ceremony - came on the ice during prior to faceoff and helped pull the cord to unveil the blue, vertical national championship banner that hangs next to the scoreboard on the back side of the rink. It is one of two new banners hung from the 76-foot high ceiling of the Whale. The other celebrates Frozen Four appearances (1952, 2013). The Frozen Four banner was installed a week ago, the other was unfurled Thursday morning and then quickly covered for one practice unveiling, which went smoothly.
A DASHING LOOK
For the first time in Ingalls Rink history, there are advertisements on dasher boards. Two companies, Hedgeye (Hedgeye Risk Management LLC) and Webster Bank have two boards each. The art placed on the white surface has tasteful, classic look.
Tonight's game aired on ESPN3… Clarkson comes to the Whale Saturday night at 7, and there are tickets available. The ticket windows open at 5:30 on Saturday.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director – firstname.lastname@example.org