NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Three goals in 51 seconds were the difference, but Broc Little's one-timer with 1:53 left in overtime capped an amazing comeback for the No. 5 Yale men's hockey team in a 5-4 win over Clarkson before a sellout crowd at Ingalls Rink.
Few of the 3,500 in attendance on Senior Day could have figured the Whale (and its Bulldogs) still had life after the Golden Knights scored to make it 4-1 just 1:06 into the third period. Yale spent the next 11-plus minutes trying to chip away at the deficit with no luck until the tide finally turned in a big way.
Little, who had three goals and one assist, notched his 24th of the year for the winner after a goal-line extended feed from Denny Kearney. Little swiped at the pass and knocked it past Paul Karpowich, the Clarkson goalie who stopped 51 of 56 shots, including 20 saves in the third frame.
Yale (18-6-3, 14-4-2 ECAC) outshot the Knights 56-26, including 23-7 in the third, but had to erase a deficit for the second straight game to earn a third consecutive four-point conference weekend.
The Elis, who attempted 102 shots, converted just one of seven power plays. They also got goals from Kearney and Jeff Anderson. Four different Clarkson players hit the net but Brandon DeFazio had a goal and an assist.
Freshman Jeff Malcolm made his first start since Jan. 23 at St. Lawrence and made 15 saves through 40 minutes before giving way to senior Billy Blase (7 saves).
Like last night against St. Lawrence, the Elis proved that dominating the shots on goal does not equate to having a lead. Yale had the first seven shots on goal and had a 17-10 edge overall in the first period but was down 1-0 at the intermission.
The Knights (7-22-3, 3-15-2) cashed in their chip with 52 seconds left on their first man-advantage to open the scoring. Scott Freeman (7th goal) took a feed at the top of the right circle and skated to the low slot before wristing a low shot glove side on Malcolm at 7:34.
Yale continued to put the pressure on the visitor's end in the second period but found itself down 2-0 after defenseman Jeremiah Crowe's blast from the top of the left circle almost clipped the water bottle resting on the net at 11:13. It was his first goal of the year.
There were fewer grade-A chances in the second. Tom Dignard's one-timer slapshot from the point on a power play right after the second goal looked like it was heading for the twine but bounced off Karpowich's stick.
The Elis finally scored when Little fired an off-angle shot that hit a defender and bounced slowly over the goal line. Little gathered the puck in the mid slot area and skated to the left before wristing a harmless looking shot and getting his 22nd goal.
Most people in the packed rink probably thought that would open the floodgates, but the visitors had other ideas. Matt Becca (19th) had the puck in the left circle with a defender in the way. The senior winger used the defender to screen Malcolm before sending a shot five-hole with 1:35 left in the second to re-gain the two-goal cushion.
Blase took over the Yale goal to start the third period got tested right away with an odd-man rush that produced a 4-1 lead. Brandon DeFazio (9th) held the puck on the right side with plenty of help and waited for an opening. He went over the goalie's shoulder with a wrister at 1:06.
The best example of how well Karpowich was playing came when the Knights killed off a two-minute, 5-on-3 after simultaneous tripping calls. He knocked down numerous quality chances and seemed to be all over the ice.
"We could feel the momentum turn in the third, but the penalty kill on the 5-on-3 could have killed our momentum," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. "I started to double-shift the Miller and Arcobello lines. We could feel it [comeback] coming."
Yale still managed to cut the lead in half with 7:32 left on a rebound put-back by Kearney. Mark Arcobello's shot from the point hit the pipe and the junior forward was on the edge of the crease to bang home his sixth of the year. Arcobello finished with three assists.
The flood gates had finally been opened. It was the first of three straight goals in 51 seconds.
Two seconds after the puck dropped following the goal, Clarkson was called for a penalty and the Elis jumped all over it. Anderson (5th) one-timed Andrew Miller's crossing feed off the edge of the crease to make it 4-3 at 13:05.
Yale evened it 14 seconds later. Kearney had the puck high and found Little with open space. The junior forward crossed the low slot, deked to the left and then went backhand high.
"It [scoring the tying and winning goals] was one of the better feelings I've had in my life," said Little. "Down 4-1, it was not looking good for us. We had to dig deep. We know we can come back from almost anything."