Yale Keeps Pace With Relentless Road Comeback
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
PRINCETON, N.J. Yale's ability to score goals is well established, but this season, its ability to win on the road is still somewhat in question.
Down 3-0 to Princeton in the first period Sunday afternoon, Yale dug deep, rallied to win, and earned an uplifting road sweep of the weekend.
"It was a real gutsy effort by our guys ... to have some of the bounces go against us, and our guys just stuck with it," Yale coach Keith Allain said. "This is a great win for us at this time of year. This will help us a lot."
With the win, Yale maintained its No. 1 standing in the Pairwise, and stayed within one point of Union for first place in the ECAC with one weekend remaining. Union hosts Princeton and Quinnipiac next weekend, while Yale hosts Colgate and Cornell.
"The No. 1 seed gives you the best matchup," Yale junior Brian O'Neill said. "I know every game is tough in the tournament. And every game is tough in the ECAC, and we have two more tough matchups next week (Colgate and Cornell) and then we have playoffs. So if we lose, it's not going to be good for our (national) ranking, but we're just focused on getting to the ECAC playoffs and winning that."
Yale began its rally with two shorthanded goals, and had a remarkable four for the weekend. The second of the two came on a delayed penalty, which meant the teams would skate 4-on-4 for 1:53. Just after that expired, as the Princeton penalty was ending, Jimmy Martin moved in the high slot, faked a pass, and found O'Neill down low. O'Neill, who is from nearby Yardley, Pa., put it in the short side for his team-leading 17th goal of the season.
"It was a great feed from Jimmy," O'Neill said. "Their goalie likes to challenge the shooter a little bit, so he was out pretty far, and Jimmy sold the shot pretty well. I had an open net, just a little bit of a tough angle."
For the night, the line of Andrew Miller, O'Neill and Chris Cahill accounted for seven points and three goals — one each. It was Cahill who scored the eventual game winner with just under two minutes left in regulation.
"I think it's the best game they've had in a long time," Allain said. "As a result, I tried to get them on the ice there every other shift in the third period."
With it 4-4 headed into the third, Yale was relentless and all over the Princeton net in the third period — particularly with that line. It was classic Yale, with relentless forechecking, and gifted stickhandling that at times ran circles around the Tigers.
"I don't know if we sensed them getting tired — that's (just) what we do," Allain said. "I wish we did that in the second period."
What it didn't produce was a goal. That is until Cahill was the beneficiary of a clear attempt that took a wild bounce. Cahill took it from the circle and tried a fancy spin-o-rama to get free. The puck was knocked loose, but as Cahill spun around, it was right there for him anyway, and he buried a wrister.
"When you get that many chances in a game, you're going to get a couple of breaks," O'Neill said, "and we finally got one."