Feb. 14, 2010

Courtesy of Yale Athletics

ITHACA, N.Y. - Sean Backman's wrist shot from the lower right circle beat Ben Scrivens at 3:17 of overtime as the Yale men's hockey team beat Cornell 2-1 in an ECAC Hockey battle of top 10 ranked teams before a sellout crowd at Lynah Rink.

The No. 6/7 Bulldogs (16-6-3, 12-4-2 ECAC) erased a 1-0 deficit with two straight goals to take over first place in the conference while clinching the 2009-10 Ivy League title.

After a scoreless third period, the visitors put seven shots on the Cornell net before Backman connected on a pretty play with Brian O'Neill to take the contest away from a Big Red team (14-7-3, 12-3-2) that was also ranked sixth and seventh in the two major polls and was part of a three-way tie for the ECAC lead.

Defenseman Jimmy Martin got the puck at the point and put it back along the boards low to O'Neill. The sophomore forward, who had put the puck on Backman's stick at least three or four times on the same charge to the net, did it again. Backman controlled quickly and sent it under Scrivens for his 18th of the year.

The OT tally made senior goalie Billy Blase a winner for the fourth time in as many decisions this year. He made just 19 saves on the night, but Blase had to come up with many quality stops to keep the Blue in contention.

Scrivens, who was spectacular at the other end, finished with 52 saves, including seven in the extra session.

Both sides had unsuccessful power-play chances, but the Red potted the only goal of the opening frame at 6:49. Colin Greening snapped back a rebound of Riley Nash's shot for his 11th of the year. The first 20 minutes were a real test for both Blase (11 saves) and Scrivens (13); the two seniors had a handful of quality stops.

The Bulldogs worked as hard as a team could work to squeeze out the equalizer in another one-goal period. Yale outshot the home team 20-4 and went scoreless on three man-advantages, but managed to tie things at 13:48.

After two straight kills by the Cornell special teams, the Bulldogs continued to work the puck around Scrivens. Denny Kearney, with a defender draped all over him behind the net, backhanded a pass to the low slot. Mark Arcobello was racing in from the circle and one-timed a shot past Scrivens' glove for his ninth goal.

Blase, despite seeing all the rubber flying at the other end, still had to come up with a couple of big saves. He had superb support from the defense and great back-checking from the forwards to stifle almost every Red rush.

Last year in late February at Ingalls Rink, the Elis clinched their second ECAC Hockey regular season championship by beating the Big Red. This meeting was almost as important, and had the feel of a true showdown.