NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Game-winning goals with under a minute to play don't come along that often. In fact, the Bulldogs had not lit the lamp that way since 2012. That changed tonight in a 2-1 Yale victory over Clarkson at Ingalls Rink. John Hayden went top shelf with 59 seconds left to give the Elis an important ECAC Hockey win.
Yale led from the middle of the second period until there was 8:58 left in the third. The Elis killed off a second power play in the final frame and then used the momentum to get the winner.
Frankie DiChiara sent a backhand pass around the back of the net into the corner. Ryan Hitchcock, who did not have the inside position to the puck, beat his man to it and wheeled to fling a pass from the corner to the slot. Hayden gathered a step from the dot in the left circle, took one stride and then fired over Jake Kielly's shoulder. The shot whizzed past the freshman goalie's ear too quickly for him to react.
It was the first Yale winner with under a minute left in regulation since Kenny Agostino won a game against Dartmouth five years ago. The former Bulldog currently leads the AHL in points, while Hayden tops the Bulldogs with 13 goals.
It took three games and 189 minutes to separate Clarkson and Yale. The two skated to a pair of overtime draws already this season, and everything about this game was just as tight.
The first frame was just what you expected from these two teams this season, an even game with 10 shots each. Both had one power play and generated a pair of shots during a scoreless 20 minutes.
The second period had three more shots on goal and the Blue broke through with a goal late in the frame. Evan Smith won the face-off in the Clarkson end and Ted Hart fired a shot off the boards to the left of the net. The puck bounced out to the side of the crease and Kielly reached back to grab it. As his glove got on top of the puck, Luke Steven's stick connected with both and sent the rubber into the back of the net for his first collegiate goal.
Prior to Yale taking a 1-0 lead, senior goalie Patrick Spano came up with a number of quality stops to keep things even. He made a tough penalty-kill save on Nico Sturm, while shortly after that, Troy Josephs had a perfect look at the cage from the slot before the senior netminder raised his glove.
Spano finished with 32 saves and many grade-A stops on a conference opponent with a number of quality wins in and outside the ECAC.
The Knights used an advantage midway through the third to even things again. That was the only power-play tally of the contest, and it looked like it might be the decision maker. However, Yale had some scary situations created by another penalty. The call on DiChiara with 5:48 sent a shiver down the spines of Eli faithful. Those shivers turned into near elation when Joe Snively reeled off two short-handed shots that came so close to finding the net.
However, there was still another scare. The penalty-kill clincher came when rookie blueliner Billy Sweezey saved a goal with a stick check at the last moment on a breakaway in the final seconds.
Clarkson and Yale skated to 3-3 and 2-2 OT ties the last two games this season… The Elis host St. Lawrence Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are available and can be purchased at the rink by 5:30. The Saints beat Brown Friday night 2-1.