Yale Upended Again; Union Earns Big Win
by Jason Klump/CHN Writer
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. Just a week after putting up a Friday night dud against Dartmouth, Union gave Yale its most complete game in a while, and upset the No. 1 Bulldogs 3-2 before a standing-room only crowd of 2,251 at Messa Rink.
With two losses in the its last four league games, Yale could relinquish the top spot in the polls, which they have held since they shut out the Dutchmen, 5-0, in New Haven on December 5. Nevertheless, Yale remained in the top spot in the Pairwise after the night.
The Bulldogs only played their best for the final 20 minutes, as desperation set in being down two goals on the road after being outplayed in an unfriendly building.
"It feels great to have revenge," said Union goalie Keith Kinkaid. "They embarassed us at Ingalls and it feels good to get the win here for our fans who support us just as well."
The third period has belonged to Yale all season, but even while outshooting Union 13-4 in that frame, it was only able to get one past Kinkaid with over 13 minutes to go. Despite constant offensive zone pressure, the Dutchmen did not relent the rest of the way.
The win is the first ever for Union over a No. 1-ranked team, and more importantly, helps its NCAA chances.
Both teams were 2-for-4 on the power play, both got solid but not spectacular goaltending, and both certainly had periods of dominance. The difference in the game, even when the tables turned in the 3rd, was that Union limited Yale's overwhelmingly biggest threat: transition offense. It was something Dartmouth's Bob Gaudet first discussed after the Big Green made it the centerpiece of their game plan in a 2-1 loss to the Bulldogs in Hanover on Jan. 7, which was, to that point, the lowest goal total anyone had held Yale to.
It has been done twice since, first by Brown and now by Union, in a pair Yale road losses. No one has yet to solve them at home, but the Bulldogs will have to win away from Ingalls to capture something other than an third straight ECAC regular season championship.
Leaman said the No. 1 priority was to limit the fancy stuff and thus the turnovers at the blue line.
"They are the most explosive team I have ever seen when you give up the puck on the rush," Leaman said. "If you can stay strong on your own rush, you can neutralize their biggest weapon."
"Obviously, we talked about making strong plays at the line," added Union freshman Daniel Carr, who scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season to take a 1-0 first period lead. "When we were taking it to them down low, we were doing that a lot better and getting pucks behind their D and that was one of the big things we worked on all week."
Yale players could tell the difference.
"They know if they turn the puck over, we're gonna make them pay," said Yale's Brian O'Neill. "And they did a good job of not doing that tonight, and we didn't do a good enough job getting pucks deep and going to work. I don't think it's anything they did at all. We just didn't work hard enough and we turned it over a lot. We weren't helping on defense and that's the forwards faults. It won't happen again."
Yale coach Keith Allain brushed off questions about the possibility of dropping from the No. 1 spot in the polls. Leaman was more philosophical.
"It's an important game on the national picture for the national tournament and that's why it maybe meant something more than league," Leaman said. "But it was a league game, and a home league game, and we have to take advantage of those."
Yale play RPI in the Big Red Freakout in front of what is hoped to be a packed Houston Field House in Troy.
"I think it will be more of the same," said Yale captain Jimmy Martin. "They will have another big crowd and they will be ready to play. They're a good team and we will have to be up to the challenge."