March 14, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The expectations are not always easy to live up to when you are the No. 1 seed hosting No. 12 in the conference playoffs. When a potential bid to the NCAA Tournament is at stake, the favorites can get pretty tight. The No. 10 ranked Yale men's hockey team brushed all that aside and knocked off Brown 2-0 to sweep the best-of-three ECAC Quarterfinal Playoff series at Ingalls Rink.
The Bulldogs (22-7-2), who advance to the conference semifinals next Friday at Albany's Times Union Arena against an opponent yet to be determined, outshot Brown 36-19 while tallying twice on nine man-advantages. Linemates Mark Arcobello and Sean Backman had the Yale goals.
Yale senior goalie Alec Richards stopped all 19 shots, including five power plays, to record a rare post-season shutout. It was Yale's first playoff blanking since Alex Westlund beat Colgate 1-0 in 1997 and registered the first post-season shutout by any Bulldog.
Richards had two huge saves early in the third with Bears on the doorstep, another significant stop on a penalty kill with under three minutes to play and a third with 45 seconds left against six skaters.
"Alec made some huge saves in the third period and played a heck of a game overall," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey.
"Brown was playing for its season and we knew they would come with everything they had," said Richards. "It was tough when you get only two shots in the first period. But I felt relaxed out there."
Mike Clemente, Brown's freshman goalie, stopped 34 of 36 shots and kept the visitors in the game in front of a very vocal Ingalls Rink crowd.
Brown (5-23-5) had just five shots on target through 30 minutes and had 10 after two periods. The lack of play in the Yale end was a result of the Blue winning pucks in the corners and moving it around so efficiently with crisp passing.
In a complete reversal from last night's opening frame, Yale had the huge shot advantage (17-2) and the only goal.
The Bulldogs, who had the game's first nine shots on goal, had plenty of chances to get a few tallies in the period. The Elis just couldn't do it with a two-man advantage, which produced just one shot on net and kept the game scoreless until one of the Bears left the penalty box.
That's when the Blue cashed in on its only power play in four chances in the first. Broc Little dropped a pass in the corner for Denny Kearney, who went beyond the goal line and flipped the puck out to Arcobello. The junior center one-timed a low shot from 10 feet away for his 16th goal of the year.
"You don't win playoff games without power-play goals," said Allain.
Brown, which scored the first two goals of the series and then gave up six straight, had trouble staying out of the box in the first and it cost them again early the second when Yale found itself with another 5-on-3. This time the home team quickly buried one. Ken Trentowski's shot from the point bounced off a Brown defender and sat outside the crease. A Bear skater tried to clear the puck but it went right to Backman, who was ready to bang it into the open left side of the net just 37 seconds into the period.
"We are ecstatic about this. It's great to be the first Yale team to make it to Albany," said Yale captain Matt Nelson. "We have set our sights on Albany and we can't wait to get going."
Recap filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director
Video by David Dikranian