January 10, 2009

Blase and O'Neill Lead Blue to Win

Jan. 10, 2009

BOSTON, Mass. - Surprise starter Billy Blase stopped 32 of 34 shots and Brian O'Neill scored twice as the Yale men's hockey team raced past Harvard 6-2 at Bright Hockey Center.

Yale (11-4, 6-2 ECAC Hockey), winners of four straight, got goals from five different skaters to win for just the third time in 29 years of playing the Crimson at Bright.

Blase, replacing an ill Alec Richards in net, made numerous quality stops and frustrated the Harvard forwards while blanking the home team on all six man-advantages.

"I was really focused tonight and I really wanted to win so badly," said Blase, who had his most saves since a playoff game at Princeton last March. "There was a lot of traffic on some of the shots, but I was able to see through the screens and find the pucks."

Jimmy Fraser scored both goals for Harvard (4-11-3, 4-6-3), which was outshot 38-34 and used a pair of goalies, Matt Hoyle (17 saves) and John Riley (15).

There was no letdown in the Bulldogs after beating No. 15 Dartmouth at Hanover last night. Yale outshot Harvard 16-13 in the first period and goals by Jeff Anderson, O'Neill and Pat Brosnihan gave the visitors a 3-0 lead at the first intermission.

Anderson one-timed a pass by Brendan Mason from behind the net just 1:47 into the game. Anderson (1st goal) was parked in the slot when the pass came out to his forehand. The sophomore winger put back the pass low inside the left post to make it 1-0.

Yale made it 2-0 at the 6:00 mark on a beautiful long pass from freshman blueliner Kevin Peel. He scooped up a lose puck behind his own net and whizzed out into the slot before spotting a streaking teammate at mid ice. Peel sent a lead pass to O'Neill (5th) who skated in ahead of two defenders and wristed a rising shot off Hoyle's water bottle.

Denny Kearney's work in the offensive end produced the game's third tally at 9:08. The sophomore winger was on the goal line extended and flipped a pass toward the front of the goal that Brosnihan (2nd) re-directed past Hoyle.

The start of the second period brought some hope and momentum for the home team. Harvard controlled play and Fraser's one-timer from a behind-the-net feed made it 3-1 at 4:52. But that shift in momentum was brief. The Bulldogs (13-8 advantage in shots) turned on the turbo engines and used their team speed to dominate the rest of the frame.

Yale's first power-play goal of the weekend was a big one. Tom Dignard's (2nd) sniper wrister went inside the far post at 12:22. Kearney sent the pass to his blueliner, who was camped in the right circle.

The speed difference and an aggressive forecheck produced a four-goal advantage for the Blue. Sean Backman stole the puck low in the Harvard end and quickly turned to find Mark Arcobello (8th) waiting for a pass in the slot. Arcobello sent a lazer into the upper left corner of the net.

Yale continued to pour it on. Arcobello broke through two defenders to win a loose puck heading toward the Harvard net and then flipped it toward the net where O'Neill re-directed it past Riley at 15:56 for a 6-1 lead.

The Bulldogs are back in action next weekend at Ingalls Rink when Clarkson and St. Lawrence come to New Haven.

Notes: The Bulldogs have been using all three goalies this season, but sophomore Ryan Rondeau may have earned a crack at Dartmouth and Harvard had he not been injured late this week. After Alec Richards stopped 29 of 30 Dartmouth shots last night, the senior goalie was the natural choice to get the nod at Boston until he got sick Saturday morning. Billy Blase made his first start since the Dec. 6 Union game at the Whale... Heading into tonight's game, Yale had won three straight games by one goal and was 6-1 in one-goal decisions.

Report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD and Sports Publicity Director