NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Yale earned its third trip to the ECAC Hockey tournament championship weekend in five seasons thanks to an all-around dominating performance in the best-of-three quarterfinals at Ingalls Rink. The 13th-ranked Bulldogs got goals from three different players and limited the opposition to 17 shots in a 3-0 win against St. Lawrence on Saturday to advance to the semifinals on March 22 at Atlantic City, N.J.
Tommy Fallen had a goal and an assist, Stu Wilson had two helpers and Jeff Malcolm stopped everything that came his way, including six power plays, to earn the win in net. That’s no small order considering the Saints (18-16-4) had one of the nation’s best power plays — and Division I’s leading goal scorer — heading into the weekend series.
“Very pleased with the way our guys played all six periods. [Saturday night] they had us under the gun, more than [Friday] night,” said Keith Allain, Yale’s Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, whose team seeks a third ECAC tournament title. “Their power play is the absolute strength of their hockey team. For us to keep them off the board on that was a real momentum swing for us.”
The Elis (18-10-2), winners of five consecutive games and sitting seventh in the Pairwise rankings after Saturday night’s win, converted two of four advantages on the way to ending St. Lawrence’s season.
The Bulldogs took advantage of their second advantage to grab the game’s first goal late in the opening frame. The puck worked around from Wilson to Kenny Agostino and then to Fallen at the point. He collected in the high slot and blasted a rising shot that went bar-down. It was the only tally of a period that had the Blue with a 14-4 shots advantage.
Clinton Bourbonais’ five-minute major-boarding call in the second minute of the middle period not only meant an early end to his night, it gave SLU a great opportunity to get a few goals. The Yale penalty-kill unit, which did not get used Friday night, limited the Saints to three shots on target and then killed off a minor a few minutes after.
“That [kill] was a huge momentum swing. Everybody was really up on it, and we didn’t get down on ourselves. We pulled through and were very successful,” Fallen said.
Malcolm came up with the big saves when needed and the special-teams unit won the battles to loose pucks and kept sending pucks to the other end.
Allain was impressed with the performance of senior goalie Malcolm. “The shot totals were low [Saturday night], but they had some really good chances. They have some guys who can really shoot the puck. I thought he had an outstanding weekend.”
After killing off the fifth of the night, the Elis thought they had made it 2-0 with 8:48 left in the second, but a goal was waved off due to a high stick on the shot. Agostino backhanded his own rebound out of the air above his waist.
Yale still managed to make it 2-0 with 5:42 remaining after a Jeremy Wick penalty. Fallen fired from the point off Matt Weninger’s pads and Jesse Root pounced on the rebound with a backhander five-hole at 14:18.
The Elis increased the lead to three with an extra man on the ice during a delayed penalty. Colin Dueck got the puck to a speeding Antoine Laganiere, who skated into the middle slot before wristing a shot stick-side on Weninger for his 14th goal of the season.
The Bulldogs completed a weekend series sweep by answering SLU’s first goal in Game 1 with nine consecutive goals while allowing the Saints just 30 shots on goal in six periods.
“We really went out and executed everything our coaches talked about,” Fallen said.