Courtesy: Yale Sports Publicity
HARTFORD, Conn. – Not even blizzard-like conditions could slow the Bulldogs as they buzzed through the capital city this afternoon. Four different Yale hockey players found the net, including two straight on a five-minute power play in the second period, and goalie Sam Tucker earned his first collegiate victory in a 4-2 decision over Connecticut before 4,909 at the XL Center.
Joe Snively and Ryan Hitchcock each had a goal and an assist and Henry Hart added two helpers as the Elis improved to 6-6-2 overall with a second straight win. UConn, which had its unbeaten streak end at five games, fell to 8-7-6.
“It felt great, and the team played really well in front of me,” said Tucker, whose team outshot the Huskies 41-15 and required the sophomore goalie to make just 13 saves. However, many of them were quality chances.
“They made it really easy for me,” said Tucker, whose previous three collegiate starts were against nationally ranked teams.
The Bulldogs used a ferocious fore-check and a great defensive zone break-out among other things to dominate the play and improve their overall series record against its state rival to 12-0. Winning most of the small battles also went a long way in getting Keith Allain ’80, Yale’s Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach, his 198th career victory.
“The best part of our game was the way we came out all three periods. We want to produce offense, that’s what we want to be about and we did a good job today,” said Allain.
The first 13 shots on target came from Yale sticks and the 12th found the net. Snively, who helped the Bulldogs outshoot the Huskies 16-4 in the opening frame, turned on the jets to convert a wrap-around tally at 8:06 and give the Elis a 1-0 lead.
UConn, which suited up seven NHL draft picks, evened things before the intermission, but the first period was all Bulldogs.
Tucker made a tremendous save on Brian Morgan five minutes into the second when the Husky forward came in alone on the net. Later in the period he was called on again for a breakaway and stopped Maxim Letunov on a backhander with a pad save.
A little after-the-whistle activity in the UConn end, which appeared to be evenly matched, ended up giving the home team an advantage, and they took it for a 2-1 lead on a power-play goal.
Shortly after the power-play goal, the Bulldogs drew a golden opportunity to turn things around with a major penalty on the Huskies toward the end of the middle frame.
Hitchcock fired an off-angle shot through the legs of Adam Huska, who played for Slovakia at the IIHF World Junior Championships. The Yale junior took a pass from Snively near the extended goal line and took a stride toward the net before flicking the puck five-hole.
“We went out there and knew we had a job to do,” said Hitchcock, sitting at the post-game press conference. “It’s a privilege to be on the power play, and we went out there and made plays.”
The Blue, still on the advantage, made it 3-2 less than a minute later. Henry Hart got a D-to-D pass from Adam Larkin and then took a few steps from the point before firing low toward the cage. Evan Mitchell, who was trying to screen the goalie and get his stick in position to deflect the shot, was able to do both. His re-direction of the shot, his first career tally, zipped past Huska at 13:56.
The Bulldogs were buzzing again in the third with an opportunity to increase the lead to two. Frankie DiChiara skated in from the left boards through the circle, angled toward the net from the slot and then snapped off a wrister glove side, top shelf almost three minutes into the frame. That was the finishing touch on a great Bulldog performance.
“We have been working on things to fine tune, and things are starting to click for us as a team,” said DiChiara, who has five goals.