NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Big Red had big leads, but the Blue kept fighting back before eventually falling 6-3 in ECAC Hockey action at Ingalls Rink. Yale outshot Cornell 42-27 but could not completely recover from the initial deficit.
The Bulldogs attempted 91 shots compared to 36 by the Big Red, but the shots do not count for a lot. Yale, which trailed by two for most of the game, kept fighting back to make it close only to have Cornell answer each time.
Seventeen of Yale's 42 shots on target came over nine power-play chances. There was just one special teams goal.
"I thought we played really well. That was the type of hockey you need to play to get a win," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach. "We almost came all the way back."
The Big Red, which was outshot 13-8 in the opening frame, scored a pair of even-strength goals over the first eight minutes of the game and would have taken an even larger lead into intermission if not for some great saves by senior goalie Patrick Spano.
The Montreal native stuck is leg out at the last second to thwart an odd-man rush one-timer from Alex Rauter before Spano made a great save on a Cornell advantage late in the period.
The first period also included a Big Red 5-on-3 advantage for 80 seconds that produced four shots and two Spano saves. He finished with 16 saves in two periods on the night.
Eight of Yale's 13 shots in the first came on five power plays.
Yale, ranked 19th in the latest uscho.com poll, kept firing at Mitch Gillam in the second, even after getting down 3-0. The Elis finally broke through with a John Hayden tally at 7:31, his fourth of the year. Joe Snively had the puck in the corner and fed Ryan Hitchcock in the right circle. The junior center found the senior captain in the slot for a quick, low shot to make it 3-1.
"My linemates did a great job of getting me the puck," said Hayden, who now has 34 goals over his 99-game career. "Hitch [Hitchcock] and Snives [Snively] have all the skill in the world."
The Blue made it two in a row nearly four minutes later on a power play that went Charlie Curti to Snively to Hayden. Curti fed Snively who cycled the puck around the right circle and then moved toward the net, firing a low wrister from the high slot that bounced off Gillam's pad and kicked out to the top of the crease. Hayden's stick was the first to reach it and he pushed it under a fallen Gilliam at 11:10.
The home team had a 20-13 advantage in second-period shots. That kept bringing the Blue within a goal of the Red, but the visitors kept answering to stay ahead by two.
Mike Doherty cut margin to one at 4-3 late in the second with a crafty re-direction of an Andrew Gauscrossing pass. The senior forward got his first of the year by taking the crossing pass from the circle to the slot and flicking it between the arm and chest of the Cornell goalie.
That goal came at 18:18, and the great second period for the Elis might give them momentum heading into the third. However, the Big Red added a fifth goal with under a minute left.
Yale sophomore Sam Tucker replaced Spano in net to start the third and immediately made a few challenging saves in his first collegiate action. Tucker stopped all five shots he faced and then was pulled from the net for an extra skater with 2:37 left.
The open net at one end helped the Blue get one shot at the other, but no sustained pressure. Cornell ended up finding the empty net with a few seconds left.
"There were many aspects of the game tonight that I thought we played better than them, but we just didn't score enough," said Allain. "Our bench was good, it was very positive all game."
The Bulldogs are on the road next weekend to face St. Lawrence and Clarkson.