NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Sean Collins had a goal and two assists and Mike Ayers picked up his fourth shutout of the season as New Hampshire handed Yale a 5-0 loss before a sellout crowd at Ingalls Rink in an inter-league men’s hockey contest.
Ayers needed just 21 saves, including nine in the second, to get the shutout, the first Yale (0-4 on the power play) has suffered at home since a loss on Jan. 29, 2000, against RPI
A tight-checking, close game turned into a rout when the Wildcats broke open a 2-0 game with three goals in the final period.
New Hampshire applied the early pressure on Yale freshman goalie Josh Gartner, recording the first seven shots on net and nine of the first 10. The Wildcats’ 10th came on a breakaway by sophomore winger Collins who raced in and tried to tuck the puck under Gartner’s glove with 8:44 left in the first. The Eli netminder held his ground and went down to stop the shot and retain the puck.
UNH (12-4-2), ranked 6th in the nation, finally cashed in one of its chances, but the game’s first goal came in a strange manner. On a line change, Collins flipped the puck and nearly hit one of the banners in the Yale end. One of his teammates followed the puck. Junior right winger Patrick Foley, sandwiched between a pair of Bulldog defensemen, swiped at the puck as he was going down to his knees and sent it through Gartner’s legs from about 12 feet out at the 15:28 mark of the opening stanza. That was the lone goal of the period, one that saw UNH, with six NHL draft picks among the forwards, outshoot Yale 11-7.
Once again, Yale’s rookie netminder did a great job of keeping his team in the game. Shots: he made a number of spectacular stops to keep it a one-goal contest, but the Elis’ defense could not hold off one of the best passing teams it has seen. The Cats clawed their second goal with a pair of great passes deep in the Yale zone. Nathan Martz grabbed the puck behind the net and sent a short pass to Steve Saviano, who was outside the left edge of the crease. Saviano then sent a pretty, behind-the-back pass over to Collins (8th goal) who one-timed it low past Gartner at 15:55 for the 2-0 cushion.
Earlier in the second, Yale (8-6-0) had a few quality chances to tie the score, including one power play. Ayers, who entered the game ranked sixth in the nation for save percentage and goals against, came up with a stop on each attempt.
After netting goals at the end of both the first two periods, UNH got one early in the third to make it 3-0 after killing off a penalty. Senior winger Lanny Gare intercepted a Yale pass in the UNH end and hit Andrew Leach as he came out of the penalty box. Leach (2nd goal) picked up speed along the right boards and then headed between the circles before snapping off a high shot that went over Gartner’s left shoulder at the 4:28 mark.
Saviano made it 4-0 with a rising shot from high in the slot at 7:25 to put the game out of reach for the Bulldogs, who have lost two straight to the Hockey East power.
Gartner, who finished with 20 saves, left the game when Gare nailed his eighth goal of the year to increase the lead to five a little more than two minutes later. Gare tucked a low shot under the Bulldog goalie’s glove on the right post, a score that brought sophomore Peter Cohen to the home net.