NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Something had to give with first and second-place ECAC Hockey teams meeting at Ingalls Rink. The No. 18 Union Dutchmen came to New Haven with an 8-1-1 (4-0 conference) road mark while No. 6 Yale was 5-1-1 in the Whale. Brendan Mason's two goals were the difference as the Bulldogs took a 4-3 contest before a sold-out crowd and jumped over Union in the standings for a first-place tie with Cornell.
Mason, a junior forward who entered the game with four goals, notched his first collegiate multiple-goal outing and the game-winner as the Elis outshot the Dutchmen 40-25.
Yale (12-5-3, 8-3-2 ECAC) found the net on just one of seven power plays but got solid goaltending from freshman Nick Maricic, who had 22 saves, stopped all five Union man-advantages and got better as the game went along.
Keith Kinkaid, also a freshman in net, made 36 saves for Union (13-7-5, 7-3-3) which lost its third straight game.
The first two shots at both ends found the net in the first three minutes of the game, but the Bulldogs only managed one more tally while having a 16-3 shot advantage in the opening period. All three goals came in the first six minutes.
"The good start was key. We wanted to make sure we were skating our best from the get go," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey.
Andrew Miller, last year's USA Junior Player of the Year, figured into all three goals in the frame. First he blocked a shot at the point that Sean Backman (13th goal) scooped up before racing in alone on Kinkaid. The senior forward faked right and tucked it past the goalie's stick with the backhand just 45 seconds in.
At the other end trying to clear the puck, Miller lost control and it went right to Luke Cain the sophomore Union winger. Cain immediately sent a low wrister toward Maricic and caught the goalie by surprise on the stick side at 3:05.
Miller then was in the middle of the scoring play that put Yale up 2-1. He took a side-board feed from Mike Matczak heading over the Union blueline. Miller sent a lead feed to Brian O'Neill that turned into a nifty, five-hole shot from the low slot and the sophomore's ninth goal of the year. O'Neill, who had not been playing much with Miller, liked working with his old teammate.
" We (Miller) played together in Chicago and he sees the ice very well," said O'Neill. "He sent me a perfect pass and I was alone with the goalie."
Maricic, who has five of Yale's 12 wins, preserved the one-goal lead after 20 minutes with two of his three saves (one was a 2-on-1 where he closed the gap at the last moment) in the frame, while Kinkaid needed 14 stops keep the Dutchmen from getting blown out.
"He (Maricic) did a good job tonight. He made a couple of really big saves in the third period," said Allain. "The glove save in the third period with about five minutes left was fantastic."
The visitors tied the game again 3:03 into the second period when Maricic got caught sliding out too far to make a play. Jon Lareau was the beneficiary with his first collegiate tally.
The home team answered almost four minutes later to take its third one-goal advantage at 3-2. Two seconds after time ran out on a Yale man-advantage, the Elis used a scrum around the net to slip one past Kinkaid. Mason (5th) crashed the net at the right time and knocked it over the goal line after Jeff Anderson moved it from the side of the net. There was enough confusion around the net to warrant a video review which confirmed Mason's tally after three minutes.
"I knew they would throw it toward the net. I drove my body through and got my stick on the puck," said Mason. "The puck went off my stick and then my leg over the goal line. I would have been really mad if they had taken that one away."
The Blue managed to get a two-goal lead in the third. Moments after having a goal taken away because of a high stick, Mason jumped all over a rebound at 6:44.
"Our (Anderson, Kearney, Martin, Peel) power-play unit is suppose to throw it on net and get big bodies to take away the goalie's eyes," said Mason, who had his best point night since a one-goal, two assist outing at Cornell last winter.
The cushion was an important one that did not last long. On a delayed penalty call with just over a minute to play, John Simpson (4th) skated over the blueline and fired a shot through traffic from the middle of the slot to cut the margin to one again.
Union tried to pull Kinkaid for the extra skater but had to wait until there was less than 20 seconds in the game. The Elis cleared the puck once and were called for icing with eight second remaining. The Dutchmen won the draw but could not get a shot on goal.
The Elis are back in action Saturday night at 7 against RPI.