No. 16/15 Yale Blanks Men’s Hockey, 4-0, In ECAC Championship Opener

Harvard dropped a 4-0 decision to Yale Friday in Game 1 of the ECAC Championship (Photo: Associated Press).

NEW HAVEN, Conn. –
Two first-period goals stuck the Harvard men's hockey team with an early deficit and the Crimson was unable to recover, dropping a 4-0 final to No. 16/15 Yale in the first game of a first-round, best-of-three series at Ingalls Rink. Yale (16-9-5) takes the 1-0 series lead over the Crimson (10-16-4), heading into Game 2 tomorrow.

Harvard was forced to kill off a penalty almost immediately, with Jimmy Vesey picking up a hitting-from-behind penalty just 10 seconds into the game. The special teams unit proved to be up to the task, but the Bulldogs would draw first blood minutes later at even strength. Top-scorer Jesse Root got a puck past Steve Michalek on a contested breakaway with 12:13 on the clock, picking up an assist from classmate Kenny Agostino and with Danny Fick getting sent to the box on the play. The hosts made it 2-0 on the heels of the ensuing Crimson penalty kill, as Gus Young muscled a puck past Michalek for an unassisted marker just over two minutes later.

The guests picked up the pace to start the second period and even gained a power play chance just past the five-minute mark of the frame. The Crimson was able to set up the five-on-four initially, but one misplayed puck at the blue line sprung Cody Learned on a breakaway, and the sophomore deked past Michalek for the short-handed score with 14:16 on the clock.

Head coach Ted Donato pulled Michalek following the goal in favor of senior Raphael Girard and called a timeout on the next faceoff to help his team regroup. The reset worked well for the Harvard defense, and Girard and the Crimson shut down the Yale scorers for the rest of the period, keeping the 3-0 deficit intact.

Jimmy Vesey exploded out of the third-period faceoff and had a great chance early, firing the shot off his mini-break just wide of the net. Play opened up continually through the third as odd-man rushes and power plays were plentiful. A promising push where Harvard collapsed on the Yale net ended unfavorably for the guests as Alexander Kerfoot was taken off the ice with an injury and Harvard was assessed a bench minor. Donato opted to pull Girard twice in the next four minutes, and while Harvard gained a handful of looks with the extra skater, it was not able to find the back of the net. With 3:29 left in the game, Carson Cooper finished the scoring for Yale, wristing a shot past Girard on a three-on-two rush.

The teams are back at it tomorrow night at 7 p.m., in Game 2 of the best-of-three series.