Izmirlian OT Goal Lifts Blue
Bulldogs Beat Merrimack 3-2
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Bulldogs, playing without three key players in the lineup, overcame a pair of one-goal deficits before getting an overtime tally from Chris Izmirlian to register a 3-2 overtime win over Merrimack in front of a near full house at Ingalls Rink.
A pair of newcomers combined on the winner that came with 45.3 seconds left in the extra session.
Frankie DiChiara, who had just jumped on the ice, picked off a pass by Merrimack defenseman Dan Kolomatis inside the visitor's blueline and then spotted his linemate. Izmirlian, who had just jumped over the boards, took the pass at the top of the right circle and fired a slapshot that bounced off the glove of Warriors' goalie Rasmus Tirronen.
The puck popped up about three feet over Tirronen's head and a few feet behind him. Izmirlian followed his shot and beat the goalie to the puck in the crease before smacking it home.
"I tried to shoot short-side high, but he got his glove on it. Then I tried to whack in in before he saw it," said Izmirlian, who got his third of the year. "I think he (goalie) turned around and looked at it but I was already behind him."
The game's hero was asked if he thought the puck was going in after his initial shot. "I'd like to think so, but I decided to make sure it was in."
That was the only time that Yale (6-2-2) had the lead. The Elis overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to notch their first OT win since Andrew Miller '13 beat UMass-Lowell last April in the Frozen Four Semifinals.
"I thought we played really well outside the first 10 minutes of the second period. Even though we were playing well, we weren't getting rewarded," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach.
Tonight's final tally made a winner of freshman goalie Alex Lyon, who came up big in a number of tough situations and made 13 saves.
The Blue outshot the Warriors 13-3 in the opening frame but was down a goal. Lyon was the busier goalie in the second during a scoreless period where the Warriors held an 8-3 advantage in pucks on target.
The third period was a different story.
Gus Young gave the home team a brief tie when he scored his first goal of the season, unassisted. The senior defenseman grabbed the puck from a pack of blue jerseys along the boards near the circle and skated out to the slot before letting go a low wrister that whizzed through traffic and snuck under Tirronen at 12:59 of the third.
Nine seconds later, the Elis were down a goal again, and the battle continued.
Another Eli blueliner came through to get the second equalizer. Mike Doherty took a pass from Kenny Agostino and skated in around the Merrimack net while spotting Rob O'Gara clear at the point. The freshman winger hit the sophomore at the top of the circle and O'Gara blasted a shot through some traffic at 12:59.
"It was a great character-building win. The fact that the guys stuck with it was key," said Allain. "Both teams were pretty tired at the end. I thought we were transitioning the puck well and playing good defense. It's nice to get rewarded for that in the end."
The Bulldogs had 15 of the 18 shots on goal in the final period, but there were a few key Yale defensive plays over the last minute that sent the game to extra time. First, Lyon made a nasty kick save on a deflected shot in traffic. Then Young got his stick on a good scoring chance by Kolomatis with a few seconds left.
Lyon's point-blank save on Rhett Bly halfway through the OT was a scary moment for the Yale fans. Lyon barely got the top of his stick on the laser shot which helped set up the play at the other end a minute later.
"We forced the turnover and Frankie gets it. The beauty of it is that he [DiChiara] has the poise to see the guy jumping off the bench. Izzy [Izmirlian] takes the shot," said Allain. "It's nice to see him [Izmirlian] follow it up. Following shots to the net is something we encourage."
DiChiara, who has five points this season, was just as happy getting the winning helper as he would have been putting the puck in the net.
"I was trying to force them to the wall, but they put the puck on my stick. I was thinking shot first, but I saw Iz [Izmirlian] coming off the bench, and I heard him call me. It was a great shot and a great play by him to follow it," said DiChiara.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director - firstname.lastname@example.org
Frankie DiChiara image by Don Clark