NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- There were goals aplenty Tuesday night as Northeastern and Yale flew up and down Ingalls Rink, but the game’s result remained in the balance right until the final buzzer.
Yale senior Patrick Spano made 11 of his 24 saves in the third period ― holding the puck out on a wild sequence while sprawling in the final five minutes, and a point-blank stop on John Stevens as time expired ― to preserve the Bulldogs’ 3-2 win in their first meeting in New Haven since 1995.
While Spano was the difference in the end, Reading, Mass., native and fellow senior Mike Doherty tallied the game-winning goal with 9:28 to play in regulation, picking up his own rebound before shooting bar down past NU sophomore Ryan Ruck from the high slot for just his second goal of the season.
“We count on (Spano) a lot and he comes up big for us there,” Doherty said. “We’ve all got a lot of confidence in him, so to pull out a win like that when it’s back and forth and they’ve got chances in the end, it’s huge.”
The Bulldogs flew out of the gates in the first period, taking the game’s first lead at the 3:43 mark as senior Chris Izmirlian tucked a rebound home past Ruck off a feed from freshman Luke Stevens and a faceoff win.
“I thought we played well,” Yale head coach Keith Allain said. “It’s funny how games go. I thought we came out really well, then they scored and we didn’t respond the way we should have. But, I thought we were the better team for the first half of the first period, and then we kind of regrouped and battled through.”
As Allain said, the visitors were opportunistic. Despite Yale’s 14-6 shots edge in the first, NU scored on its first power play of the night and again less than five minutes later to take a one-goal lead into the first intermission.
A pair of pipes did not deter the Huskies in the opening frame, and it was a first-time offensive source who leveled the score at 12:24. Off a centering feed from Brendan Collier, fellow senior Sam Kurker stuffed home his first goal in almost a year’s time past Spano.
After a quieter offensive start to an evenly-matched second period, the hosts rattled off three of four total goals to take a 4-3 lead. Sophomore Andrew Gaus knotted the score at the 7:17 mark, potting freshman Robbie DeMontis’ centering feed past Ruck from the right side.
“Scoring five goals, they were all spread out with five different scorers,” said Allain, whose team improved to 5-6-2 on the season with the victory. “And our fourth line had a huge goal for us, probably the momentum-changing goal. If you’re going to give up four, you have to score at least five if you want to be happy when you go home.”
Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan echoed Allian’s sentiments about the back-and-forth game, but the effort was not there from start to finish and was not consistent enough for a third straight victory.
“We didn’t deserve to win the game at the end of the night,” Madigan said. “Credit Yale because they played with a little more pace and we were just too inconsistent with our effort for 60 minutes. At times, I thought we were going to get five or six of them, but we can’t give up five goals and expect to win a hockey game.”
Senior Frankie DiChiara put Yale back ahead less than four minutes later, at 10:41. The Bulldogs had just finished a great penalty kill, then DeMontis set DiChiara up for a hard wrister from the high slot that eluded Ruck high through a sea of traffic.
The Bulldogs carried a 3-2 lead into the final 90 seconds of the frame, but the teams traded a pair of quick goals at that point. The sides finished the middle frame even in the shots category, 10-10.
After scoring his second straight hat trick Friday for the Huskies, Zach Aston-Reese got on the board for the 18th time this season at 18:25. Off sophomore Adam Gaudette’s shorthanded faceoff win to the right of Spano, Aston-Reese snapped one off from the circle that bounced off Spano’s glove and bounced over the goal line.
Yale took some momentum back before the second intermission as John Hayden tallied his 11th goal of the season off a feed from junior Ryan Hitchcock at the doorstep with 50 seconds left in the period.
The Huskies tallied to open the third as Dylan Sikura slid a seeing-eye shot through Spano’s pads at 4:26, but Doherty’s final response came just over five minutes later on a strong individual effort that sophomore Joe Snively set up.
“We’ve been working on our breakouts a lot and ‘Snives’ hit me on the wall coming out,” Doherty said. “I just tried to get it on net. The first one got blocked, I was able to catch it and put it down to shoot as quick as possible and luckily it went in.”