Yale Can't Hold On Against No. 14 Union

Don Clark image
Don Clark image

Bulldogs Had 2-0 Lead

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – An early two-goal lead against No. 14 Union and Division I's top scoring line wasn't enough to get Yale an ECAC Hockey win tonight. The Bulldogs evened the score at 3-3 late in the third, but that didn't get them over the top either in a 5-3 win for the Dutchmen before a sellout crowd at Ingalls Rink.

Three different Elis found the net, including a freshman's first tally, and six others had assists. However, the prosperity was short lived and Yale's unbeaten streak came to an end at four games.

The Blue outshot Union 29-24 but couldn't cash in on any of its four advantages. Yale's penalty-kill was excellent, limiting the Dutchmen (12-3-2, 8-1-1) to six shots on three scoreless power plays.

The Bulldogs scored twice, 20 seconds apart in the first period.

Freshman defenseman Matt Foley moved the puck out of his own end along the right boards for Joe Snively, who sent it ahead for Ryan Hitchcock. That resulted in a Hitchcock power move and a shot on target that bounced off Union goalie Alex Sakellaropoulos and sat near the edge of the crease. Snively, following up on the play, swooped in and smacked it home at 6:46 to make it 1-0.

Luke Stevens didn't score the second Yale goal, but the freshman forward did almost everything to make it happen at 7:06. Stevens created a turnover in the Dutchmen end and skated out from the corner. On the way to the lower slot, he did a nifty spin move and forehand pass across to Chris Izmirlian that was the perfect setup for the 2-0 lead.

The visitors stormed back with three straight in the second to take the lead.

Yale's attempt to get the equalizer took a huge blow late in the second when captain and leading scorer John Hayden was sent to the locker room with a major penalty. The Elis' penalty-kill unit came up big with a five-minute effort that allowed just three shots on goal.

There were plenty of good chances to even things before the second intermission. The best was a pretty Izmirlian pass that Hitchcock nearly converted into a short-handed goal. The one-timer narrowly missed the cage.

Sam Tucker, Yale's sophomore goalie making his second career start and the first at the Whale, had a solid showing the included a variety of impressive saves. Two of his best came on shorthanded chances in the first. The former Choate netminder stopped all eight shots in the first and finished with 19 before the visitors deposited an empty-netter with a few seconds left.

Before Union put the game away, there was great energy from the Bulldogs as they worked to even things at 3-3. Frankie DiChiara made a few impressive runs at the net; both were near misses with just under eight minutes left.

With 2:30 left in the game, Mitchell Smith broke through with a nice move in the slot and a backhander that got the building buzzing again.

"It was a hard-earned goal and the result of our entire team working hard," Smith said about his first career tally. "That shot went between his arm and his stomach."

He didn't get much time to enjoy the feeling. Just after the goal was announced, Union took advantage of an odd-man rush to go up again by a goal.

The Elis had to go back into catch-up mode and almost did it again. The best chance came with Tucker on the bench for an extra skater. Snively got a pass in the low slot and had space and time, but his shot with 35 seconds left caught a piece of the goalie before sailing to the boards.

"I thought in large parts we played well tonight," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach. "I am bitterly disappointed with the way it ended."

 

BULLDOG BITES

Union won by the same score back in November in Schenectady. The Elis had a two-goal lead in that contest as well… Yale plays at Boston University Tuesday night and then is off for 15 days… The Dec. 28 Ottawa game is Holiday Toy Drive Night at the Whale. Help the Yale New Haven Hospital Auxiliary Toy Closet by bringing a new toy to Ingalls that night in exchange for one GA ticket… Yale Hockey Alumni Weekend is Feb. 17/18 with Harvard and Dartmouth coming to town.

 

Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director – steven.conn@yale.edu