The defending national champion Yale Bulldogs started the 2014 postseason the way they ended the 2013 NCAA hockey campaign—with a victory. Displaying a winner's heart, four different players reached the back of the net and freshman netminder Alex Lyon was perfect between the pipes as the Bulldogs blanked Harvard, 4-0, in Game One of the ECAC first-round series before 2,263 fans at Ingalls Rink in New Haven on Friday night.
The Bulldogs put the game away with two goals in the first period. Flanders, NJ, native Kenny Agostino sent a beautiful crossing pass to Jesse Root. The senior forward proceeded to break through the low slot and send a backhander past Harvard goaltender Steve Michalek to give Yale a 1-0 lead 7:47 into the contest. Matt Killen also picked up a helper on Root's team-leading 14th goal of the season. Harvard's Danny Fick was sent to the penalty box for hooking Root on the play.
Yale doubled its lead about two minutes later. Senior defenseman Gus Young tried to hook one past Michalek from behind the net, but it hit the Harvard netminder's pads. Young gathered the rebound, took the puck back behind then net, then came back out the same side and sent one off Michalek’s skate into the back of the net, giving the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead at the 9:56 mark. Given the brilliant play of Lyon, a freshman from Baudette, Minn., that was all the scoring Yale would need.
The Bulldogs tacked on a third goal late in the third period when Carson Cooper beat Raphael Girard, who replaced Michalek in the Harvard crease midway through the second period, with a wrister from the high slot beating Girard's glove side with 3:29 remaining in the contest.
“Hockey, to me, is the ultimate team game, and I thought we played a good team game tonight,” said Yale head coach Keith Allain, a master at stating the obvious. “You’re gonna have to if you want to advance. I think against a team like Harvard it’s real important that you defend first, [and] I thought we played a strong game defensively. At the same time, I thought we showed real good intensity around their net offensively.”
Game two of the series is Saturday at 7 p.m. at Ingalls, and tickets are still available. On Monday, members of the 2013 National Championship team will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet President Obama and to take part in the White House's celebration of national championship teams. The event will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov/live.