NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Anyone who got caught in pre-game traffic outside Ingalls Rink prior to this ECAC Hockey contest missed a bunch of goals. Three players hit the net twice as their team enjoyed its most prolific offensive night in two and a half seasons. Yale, which found the net on its first two shots, scored three times in the first four minutes on the way to a 7-3 victory over Rensselaer before 3,113.
John Hayden, Joe Snively and Ted Hart each had two tallies as the Bulldogs put together a complete performance that helped them grab two important conference points. Hayden led the team with four points overall, while Snively and Ryan Hitchcock had three points each.
The Elis, who improved to 4-4-2 overall following an off weekend, outshot RPI 43-24 and converted three of five power-play chances.
"I felt we practiced hard and I was excited to see what it would translate to," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach about the two-week break between games. "We came out hungry, we came out ready to play, and it really showed on the scoreboard."
Four goals in the first period and a 17-3 advantage in shots set the tone for the night.
The first of three straight by the home team was also the first career goal for freshman blueliner Matt Foley, who fired a low shot from the point that went past the goalie's blocker, hit the left pipe and bounced into the net just 52 seconds into the contest.
Nineteen seconds later, the Blue made it 2-0 with a nifty, re-direction by Hart. The play started on a D-to-D pass before Adam Larkin snapped off a shot from the point. Hart, with a defenseman in good position, got his stick on the mid-level shot and sent the puck bouncing off the ice toward starting goalie Cam Hackett. It eventually bounced off Hackett's side and zipped into the back of the net.
The Elis played tic-tac-toe with an advantage to get Hayden his first goal and put Yale up 3-0 at 4:03 of the first. Hitchcock sent a pass from the point low to Snively on the goal line to the right of the cage. Snively put the puck on Hayden's stick for the one-timer from the slot. That was enough to get Hackett replaced by Chase Perry, who saw his team get on the board with a power-play tally before Hayden got his second of the night.
The captain's goal at 10:59 of the opening period was the offensive highlight of the young campaign. Hayden, who was on the other side of the ice when an RPI defenseman cleared the puck from the slot to the corner, where two red jerseys were alone and ready for possession. That's when the senior Bulldog skated across, lifted a player's stick and grabbed the puck. There were three players around Hayden and they all swiped at him as he maneuvered between them heading for the net. When he got to the edge of the circle he unleashed a snap shot that sailed into the upper right corner of the net.
"That was a big goal because they [RPI] had scored to make it 3-1, and you hate to see the momentum shift," said Allain. "He made a terrific shot after doing all that work."
Looking at a replay of the amazing individual effort, you can't help but notice five Engineers in and around the circle, while the lone white shirt is Hayden.
"Our coaches have been talking to us about a relentless fore-check, and that's what happened," said Hayden, who leads the team with nine goals and 15 points. "I was the F1 and got in on it, and then I saw an opportunity to go around the guys."
Yale took a 4-1 lead into the first break and then used simultaneous advantages to put the game away. Goals from Snively and Hart made it 6-1 near the halfway point of the second.
Snively's tally was a result of a great crossing feed by Hayden that set up last year's conference rookie of the year on the edge of the right circle. Snively converted the 5-on-3 with a perfectly placed, short-side wrist shot.
Hart took a pass below the goal line, skated back across it and then flicked a shot from 10 feet out that went top shelf, inside the far post at 8:57 with the home team up one man.
"We used the time [two weeks off] to work on other ways to score," said Hart. "We needed to get more pucks to the net. We were really anxious to play a game."
The Engineers got one back, but the Blue used a 4-on-4 to get the lead to 7-2 late in the middle frame. Snively, skating across the slot a step ahead of a defender, re-directed a precision Hitchcock feed. It was the perfect way to complete the scoring.
The last time the Elis notched seven goals was Valentine's Day, 2015, a 7-5 win at home over Princeton… Yale, which entered the weekend with the fewest (9) games played in Division I, was playing a team tonight that had 18 games under its belt. Michigan Tech has played 20… The Bulldogs host No. 14/15 Union (3-1 win over Brown Friday night) and the nation's top goal scorer Mike Vecchione tomorrow night at 7. A limited number of tickets are still available and the ticket window opens at 5:30 on Saturday… Yale Hockey Alumni Weekend is Feb. 17/18 with Harvard and Dartmouth coming to town.