Rivarly on Ice Goes 5-1 Yale
NEW YORK, NY – A ferocious fore-check, excellent goaltending and an impressive all-around team effort made the first "Rivalry On Ice" all Yale. Four Bulldogs hit the net, including a pair by Cody Learned, and Alex Lyon made 23 saves as the No. 10 ranked Elis beat Harvard 5-1 before 15,524 at Madison Square Garden.
Gus Young and Mike Doherty added a goal and an assist and Chris Izmirlian had two helpers as Yale outshot the Crimson 34-24 and upped its unbeaten string to four during a game aired on NBC Sports Network.
The Bulldogs broke the ice with an early tally when Stu Wilson and Doherty combined on a pretty one-timer. Wilson, a sophomore forward, grabbed the puck in the Harvard end along the boards and carried into the right circle with speed. He spotted Doherty cruising into the low slot and made the perfect pass off the edge of the crease. The freshman forward re-directed it past Raphael Girard at 4:23.
Lyon stopped 13 of 14 shots including three quality, point-blank chances in the opening frame. The only one that got past him came on a power play, and the freshman had little chance on the quick pass and one-timer at 10:51.
"Alex did a fantastic job tonight," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach. "He grew as the game went on. I really liked the way he was placing the puck. He did a good job of putting pucks in safe areas for us."
The Bulldogs broke it open in the second with three goals in just over three minutes, including two just 26 seconds apart, while doubling Harvard's shot totals in the period.
Yale made it 2-1 with a shot from the top of the right circle by Learned. Defenseman Rob O'Gara started the play by getting it out of his own end and sent it up to Izmirlian, who found the sophomore going over the Crimson blueline. Learned's shot went low and off the pad of the goalie before zipping inside the far post.
"I was a little surprised [it went in]," said Learned, who was named game MVP. "Coach always tells us to get shots on net. I just tried to rip it, and I'm glad it bounced in."
The Blue made it two straight on a great time and space play by Doherty, who took a pass from Anthony Day going over the Harvard blueline. Instead of rushing toward the goal, Doherty spun around and pulled it back to create more space and time for help. Senior defenseman Gus Young came flying over the blueline and got in position. Doherty went tape-to-tape and Young's blast from the point went over Girard's shoulder at 5:15 for his second of the year.
"It was a 2-on-2 rush. Dazer [Anthony Day] and I criss-crossed and he dropped it to me," said Doherty. "I tried to buy some time. Gus [Young] came late and put it under the bar. I knew somebody would be coming, fortunately Gus was there."
The tally that upped the lead to 4-1 was the result of Learned crashing the net on a rebound. Ryan Obuchowski and Izmirlian put shots on target and the final rebound sat in the crease for Learned to notch his second of the night and fourth of the season at 5:41.
These Blue shirts would have pleased the average fan of the Rangers at MSG tonight. When Yale was buzzing with its pressure and puck movement, it was fun to watch. They applied the heat again in the third while both goalies (Steve Michalek came in for Harvard after the fourth Yale goal) came up with impressive saves.
The Elis increased the margin to four in the third period after an odd-man rush by Young and Agostino. Agostino sent a crossing pass to Young, but the defenseman couldn't re-direct it on target and the puck went off the boards. Young won the race and sent it back in front at the most challenging of angles by contorting his body. Agostino, who initially slowed himself to stay on the edge of the crease with a defender on him, one-timed the feed into the back of the net for his team-high seventh this year.
Allain summed up the Rivalry on Ice experience appropriately. "People play college hockey for lots of reasons. To play a traditional rival like Harvard in a building like Madison Square Garden is something they will never forget."
BULLDOG BITES: This was the largest crowd to attend a Yale-Harvard hockey contest... Both teams wore special jerseys with a Rivalry On Ice Logo. Yale's jersey, a throw-back to the 1970s and early 80s, was blue with a white "Y" on the front and smaller ones above the number on the shoulders… The ceremonial puck drop had a nice New York Ranger-Yale-Harvard flavor. Dominic Moore (Harvard), former Rangers Mike Richter (Yale) and Mark Messier and Secretary of State John Kerry (Yale) joined Blue captain Jesse Root and Crimson Dan Ford… There was one change in the lineup from last week; Mike Doherty was in the lineup for Charles Orzetti… MSG hosted a St. John's-Villanova men's basketball game that ended at 3:30 p.m. today. The work crew, which changed the venue from hockey on Friday (NY Rangers) to hoops, had the ice ready to skate by 5:45… Yale is on the road next weekend and back to ECAC play with games at Clarkson and St. Lawrence… The Spizzwinks, Yale's underclassmen a cappella singing group, performed the national anthem.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
image courtesy of Henry Ehrenberg/Yale Daily News