Bulldogs Beat Tigers in Battle of Ranked Squads

Jan. 30, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Bulldogs finally enjoyed the taste of home cooking after going 5-4-1 in its first 10 games at the Whale. Sean Backman had two goals and one assist and Alec Richards stopped 32 of 33 shots as the No. 18 Yale men's hockey team knocked off No. 9 Princeton before an Ingalls Rink sellout (3,500) crowd in ECAC Hockey play.

The Bulldogs (14-5-1, 9-3-1 ECAC) outshot the Tigers 42-33 in one of the best collegiate games in New Haven in recent times. The contest, however, was won by the Yale special teams. The Elis, who are now 6-1 against nationally ranked squads and one point out of first place, converted two of five power plays and killed off all six of their penalties on the way to a seventh win in the last nine games.

"You have to point to the special teams as the difference in this game," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. "We've got a really good group of guys who play hard every game and work hard every day in practice."

Backman, who leads the Blue with 13 goals, scored the first and last goals of the game. The other tally came from fellow junior and linemate Mark Arcobello. Yale's two power-play goals were its most in seven games.

Richards' 32 saves were a season-high for the Elis, and there were very few easy chances for the senior who has been in net for nine wins.

Princeton (14-6-0, 8-5-0), which lost for the fourth time in five games, got 39 saves from Zane Kalemba, who beat Yale four times last season and was flying all over the ice making stops tonight.

"We lost four times to these guys last year, so it was nice to get a win against them," said Backman. "We are playing a lot better and getting a real chemistry going. I hope we can continue to feed off this momentum."

The Elis were buzzing early and Brian O'Neill had the game's first great scoring chance 1:50 in. The freshman winger went in alone on Kalemba but was unsuccessful on a deke-and-backhand move.

The Tigers had a better opportunity midway through the first with a 5-on-3 for 1:42. Richards saw the first shot from the advantage whiz off a pipe, but he only had to make one save on the period's only two power plays.

The Bulldogs finally broke through at 13:46 with a pretty put-back goal by Backman, his team-best 12th of the season. Mark Arcobello took a perfect feed from O'Neill and tossed a low backhander at Kalemba that was blocked. Backman jumped at the rebound in the right slot and hit an open ride side of the net.

Princeton needed just 56 seconds in the middle frame to even the score. Lee Jubinville's crossing back-pass from the right boards found Brett Wilson (6th goal) with space to work. Jubinville took the defense with him and his linemate had nothing between he and the net. Wilson's rising wrister went top shelf.

The visitors had another golden chance with a 45-second two-man advantage. Richards made six big saves over the two penalty kills to keep the score 1-1.

Yale did nothing with its first advantage of the game but had a 5-on-3 with 2:37 left in the second, which resulted in a go-ahead tally and the reverse scoring of the Blue's first goal. Tom Dignard moved the puck across the point to Backman, who one-timed a low shot at Kalemba. The rebound came out to the left and Arcobello (10th) banged it back from eight feet away with five seconds left on the two-man advantage and at 18:06 of the period.

That was the final tally of a wild second period that included 35 shots on net (Yale 20-15).

Princeton, which had many grade-A scoring chances over the last 20 minutes, had its comeback attempt derailed by a late penalty that ended up as Yale's clinching, power-play goal.

Tiger forward Dan Bartlett was called for a very obvious (goalie) charging call with 1:20 left that put the visitors down a man. Denny Kearney took a feed from Broc Little, who stole a Princeton pass, and carried deep in the Princeton end. Backman skated in front and received a great pass that he easily one-timed past Kalemba at 18:47. That sent the largest home crowd of the year into a frenzy the likes of which had not been heard this season at the Whale.

"Denny [Kearney] made a great play to me. He made the goalie commit and it was easy for me to finish," said Backman.

The Bulldogs are home Saturday night at 7:00 to host Quinnipiac. A limited number of tickets are available at the door at 5:30.

Recap filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director

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