SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – Ryan Rondeau stopped 31 of 34 shots and kept No. 1 Yale in a close game that saw the Bulldogs post a dominating third period. But a pair of two-goal deficits were too much as No. 13 Union held on for a 3-2 win before a packed Messa Rink in ECAC Hockey play.
Rondeau, beaten by three real sniper shots — two on the power play — saw most of the action for the first 40 minutes with 27 saves. It was just the second time this season the Bulldogs (17-3, 11-2 ECAC) have been outshot (34-30) in a game.
Keith Kinkaid, who made 28 saves overall, needed a dozen in the final frame to hold on for the win as Yale outshot Union 13-4. He allowed two power-play goals on four attempts while helping the home team pull to within three points of the first-place Elis.
Kenny Agostino and Jimmy Martin were the two Bulldogs who got pucks past Kinkaid. Four teammates had assists.
The first period was all Union (17-7-3, 9-3-1), and not just because the Dutchmen outshot the Blue 14-8. The home team had five or six grade-A chances that made the frame one of the best in Rondeau’s career, as he posted 13 saves. To say Union was buzzing the net is an understatement. Wearing its throwback 1940s uniforms, Union came out firing but left the ice with only a 1-0 lead.
Thirteen seconds into his team’s only man-advantage in the period, Daniel Carr fired a wrister from the left dot that went inside near post at 11:02 for his 15th goal of the year.
Yale’s only great opportunity to get one past Kinkaid was an Andrew Miller, point-blank snap shot from the left circle with two minutes left.
What more could Union want with a lead against the nation’s top-ranked team before a TV audience and a sold-out crowd at home while sporting the nation’s second best defense? They almost didn’t hold on.
It was two ticks off the clock on another Dutchmen power play midway through the second before it was 2-0. Wayne Simpson’s 9th goal was a sniper shot that went top shelf at 7:12 and the Blue was in a two-goal hole for the first time in 2010-11.
“They’ve got the best power play in the country, you have to give them some credit,” said Yale head coach Keith Allain. “They were geared up and won more races than we did.”
The Bulldogs cut the lead in half at 13:39 on an advantage. Brian O’Neill carried over the blueline and picked up speed along the left boards before spotting Agostino on the other side and put it on his stick. The most recent ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week, Agostino one-timed the feed into the near side of the cage for his ninth goal of the season.
There could have been momentum from the Agostino tally; instead the Elis found themselves down two again just 40 seconds later. Adam Presizniuk’s rising wrister from the left circle went over Rondeau’s shoulder at 14:19.
Yale pulled within one at 6:37 of the third when Martin, coming in from the point, one-timed a Denny Kearney pass on the power play. It was Martin’s third goal of the year. There were plenty of other great chances to even the score. Broc Little deked a defenseman and was alone in the lower slot with Kinkaid frozen, but the senior’s shot was saved with 6:52 left. Rookie Jesse Root had the other solid attempt when he was alone in the left circle with 2:50 remaining, but his shot went wide.
The Bulldogs pulled Rondeau with 1:11 left and could not put sustained pressure on the net. The puck stayed along the boards and behind the net for the rest of the way.
“We knew we hadn’t been our best in the first 40 minutes, but we believed [we could come back],” Martin said. “We didn’t play well enough to win tonight and they made us pay for it.”