NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Getting a conference point off the No. 4 ranked team in the country is an accomplishment. The way the Yale men's hockey team earned a 3-3 overtime tie with Cornell at Ingalls Rink tonight was the best part.
The Bulldogs, 4-1-1 over their last six games, overcame a three-goal momentum swing to send the game into extra hockey on a Ryan Hitchcock goal with under a minute to play. The Elis (7-8-1, 4-6-1 ECAC) saw their 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 Big Red advantage over an 11-minute span between the last two periods.
Yale, trailing by a goal, kept bringing the shots and the pressure hoping to get more out of this result than a consolation prize. The Elis pulled starting goalie Sam Tucker with 65 seconds left and then cashed in on the decision 15 seconds later.
The Blue had possession in the offensive zone with the extra man. Junior defenseman Charlie Curti moved the puck from the left point down along the boards to freshman Kevin O'Neill, who spotted a teammate open in the high slot. Junior Joe Snively wound up for the one-timer and sent the puck wide of the net on the right side. That's where his captain, Hitchcock, was positioned.
"It happened to find my stick. I was lucky to have enough to have the time and space to score," said Hitchcock, who gathered in the Snively attempt and had an open right side of the net to deposit the puck.
"A tie was the just outcome," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach. "Both teams put it all on the line and played as hard as they could. A tie was the right outcome."
The home team opened the scoring late in the first period. Curti moved the puck out of the Yale end for rookie forward Tyler Welsh, who led Robbie DeMontis with a pass into the offensive zone. The sophomore center skated into the high slot and fired a wrist shot through the legs of Big Red goalie Matthew Galajda with 5:36 left in an opening frame that had the visitors with an 11-9 edge in shots.
Tucker, who finished with 34 saves, had an outstanding game, which included stopping all 11 shots in the first period. He made six huge saves on a pair of Cornell advantages in the second and had 18 overall in the period. One of his best stops of the night came during one of the two Cornell second-period power plays. On a crossing pass through the slot, Tucker scooted across the crease like a hungry Bulldog chasing after a snack. The junior netminder kicked aside the seemingly unstoppable attempt. He ended up with six of his 18 saves on the two advantages.
The Blue made it 2-0 with 6:22 left in the second. Junior forward Ted Hart won the puck behind the goal line with two defenders near him and then gave it to Dante Palecco in the slot. The rookie forward flicked a low shot on net that bounced off the goalie's pads where Evan Smith was waiting. Smith, just off the left edge of the crease, banged it home to send the packed house into a frenzy.
The Blue held Cornell off the scoreboard until there was 33.8 seconds left in the second. A rebound tally began a huge momentum swing that would require great re-focused energy to overcome.
There were a lot of great efforts along the way the enabled Yale to notch the point. One big one came from rookie blueliner Phil Kemp, who stopped a breakaway with backcheck on a Cornell power play midway through the third. Shortly after that, Palecco was awarded a penalty shot after being held on a breakaway of his own. His attempt to give the Elis a 3-2 lead bounced off the left post. Cornell followed up with a goal to take its only lead.
Yale had most of the possession time in OT and the only shot on goal (Evan Smith).
"I was really happy with the fight on our bench. We knew we were playing a quality opponent. We stuck with it and chipped away at it," said Allain.