Hart Nets 2, Tucker Saves Blue with 29 Stops
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – His team was clinging to a one-goal lead against a local rival late in the third period, and Yale junior goalie Sam Tucker watched as one of his penalty-killers broke a stick. Tucker, who was already facing a 6-on-4, and the Bulldogs killed off the advantage while running out the clock in a 3-2 ECAC Hockey victory over Quinnipiac before a sold out Ingalls Rink.
When asked about having a teammate lose a stick while down two men, Tucker, who had 29 saves, responded with a smile, "It's a lot of fun, I wouldn't want it any other way."
Yale, winners of three straight, needed a win tonight to jump over the Bobcats in the conference standings with time running out on the regular season. The Elis (12-11-1, 7-9-1 ECAC) grabbed 8th place for the night by erasing a 2-1 deficit in the second period after a pair of power-play goals gave the visitors their only lead.
"It was a hard-fought game on both sides. Both teams had chances and both carried the play for times. I have to give credit to our guys, they found a way to win," said Yale Assistant Coach Josh Siembida.
Ted Hart scored the equalizer at 13:58 of the second and almost three minutes later deposited the game-winner setting up a frantic and wild third period that had fans on their feet on every rush.
Blueliner Billy Sweezey gave the Blue a 1-0 lead at 11:32 of the first on a shot from the left circle that went five-hole on Quinnipiac goalie Keith Petruzzelli.
"I got a pass from [Anthony] Walsh and went over the blueline and then cut to the middle. I just threw it on net. We really emphasized getting shots on net against these guys," said Sweezey..
The visitors jumped on power-play chances in the closing seconds of the first and early in the second to change the momentum of the contest.
The Bulldogs, who were playing without head coach Keith Allain (Olympics) and have Princeton Saturday night, did not waver after giving up the game's only power-play tallies. Instead, they outshot the Cats in the last two periods and gave Tucker the win in net.
The equalizer came from Joe Snively winning the puck in the corner and zipping a feed to the crease. Petruzzelli tried to stop the puck from going through the crease but only got a piece of it, and it squirted to the other side. Hart, who now has eight goals this year, got to it first and whacked it home.
"I went around the net," said Hart. "The puck was lying in front of me… the goalie misplaced his hand over the puck and it slid right to me."
Hart's winner, at 16:57 of the second, was set up by Dante Palecco's crossing pass in the slot.
"I just tried to go hard to the back door and Dante was able to find me. I was able to backhand it in," said the junior forward.
Tucker made 11 of his saves in the scoreless third frame. Two of those came during the crazy, penalty-kill and extra-man situation following a cross checking call on Kevin O'Neil at 17:56. The Bobcats hit the pipe a few times and Elis were putting bodies in front of shots.
"He was great the whole game. He was poised, in front of pucks, he was finding pucks. He works extremely hard, he deserves to feel good about this one," said Siembida about his goalie.
Tucker seemed to enjoy being involved in a wild finish like that.
"Just trying to stay level," said the Eli netminder after the game. "You have to trust your guys are going to do everything they can to block shots."
Quinnipiac pulled its goalie with 2:30 left and then got the additional advantage. Prior to the 6-on-4, the Elis had a chance to put the game away at even strength. Snively had the puck on his stick in the slot for a fraction of a second looking at an empty net before a Bobcat defender made a diving stop. The Bulldogs went from the doorstep of a 4-2 lead to clinging to a one-goal lead down two skaters. It could habve been a cruel, unlucky swing. Yale's penalty kill seemed to go on forever as the noise in the Whale rose to its highest level.
"It took a lot of guys being courageous and getting in shot lanes," said Hart. "Really a good team effort and team win."
by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD/Sports Publicity Director