Yale's Run Ends at 'Home'
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. After all the magic of the season, and the ECAC title run, and the fortune of playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 11 years and being a No. 2 NCAA seed in the year it just so happens to be hosting a regional, Yale's season came to an abrupt close Friday night.
Vermont stymied Yale's trademark forecheck all night, and won 4-1. The goal was Yale's first in the NCAAs since 1952.
"We showed spurts there, but we weren't really able to sustain it and wear teams down like we usually do," senior Matt Nelson said.
"They had some really big defensemen that were tough to move. It prevented us from getting in the zone a number of times. But other than that, I really don't think they were that different from other teams we've seen."
Nevertheless, it was part of another 0-for-2 night for the ECAC, combined with Princeton's crushing loss out West.
The hopes of playing with the lead, were lost early. Despite killing a 5-on-3 early, Peter Lenes snapped off a long shot that somehow beat Yale goalie Alec Richards to put Vermont on top. Yale couldn't capitalize on the early energy, and Vermont's well-traveling crowd got into it.
"It was really special in the beginning of the game there," Nelson said. "It's unfortunate we couldn't get that one goal to keep the crowd and us in it. But I really thank the fans for coming out. And it says a lot about where Yale hockey has come."
Said Yale coach Keith Allain, "We also knew they were a better team with the lead. We had a couple chances early, then they scored, and got another one. So it just seemed like an uphill battle. ... Giving Vermont a lot of credit, I don't think they saw the best Yale hockey team."
Yale had a 5-on-3 itself late in the second, hoping to get back in the game.
"We killed a 5-on-3 early in the game. In the first period, I tought both teams got their energy from penalty kills," Allain said. "It doesn't usually happen that way. ... I don't think it's as much not scoring 5-on-3 as it was giving up the third goal."
It was just the third all-time NCAA appearance for Yale. Then again, Vermont hasn't made it much either. The Catamounts had one win ever coming into the game, a 1996 win by the Tim Thomas, Martin St. Louis crew. Yale's only win was in 1952, in the consolation game.
"It's also a different stage to play on. It's a big arena, all the hype," Nelson said. "Those are not excuses, but it's def. something new to get used to."
Allain wasn't sure if that had an impact, but he wishes he had another chance to find out.
"We've played in some really terrific hockey environments this year," Allain said. "I don't think we looked like a team that was in the NCAA tournament year in and year out. And I think we have a chance to bring some of these guys back, we'll be better for this experience.
"There's something to be said for any experience you gain, as long as you learn from it. I think we could've learned a lot from winning tonight. Unfortunately, we'll have to learn from a loss."