The focus this week in Union’s practices was to stick to the process and keep firing pucks on the opposing goalie. Sticking to the process had been a struggle for the Dutchmen, having scored just 18 even-strength goals in their last 17 games.
Max Novak and Matt Hatch listened intently. And thanks to them, the Dutchmen got the offense going.
Novak and Hatch took advantage of poor goaltending by Yale’s Nick Maricic and scored soft goals in the second period. Those scores helped erase a 1-0 deficit and spark the Dutchmen to a 4-2 ECAC Hockey victory over the 10th-ranked Bulldogs before a sellout crowd of 2,085 Friday night at Messa Rink.
Novak’s goal came short-handed, while Hatch’s was an even-strength tally, Union’s first in 102 minutes, 23 seconds. The last even-strength goal by the Dutchmen (7-6-4 ECACH, 14-10-5 overall) was scored by Josh Jooris last Friday at Clarkson.
“We’ve been harping about taking the puck to the net hard all week and just throwing the puck to the net, and good things will happen,” Novak said after the Dutchmen fired 42 shots on goal. “We started doing that more.”
Yale (9-7-1, 13-8-3) had taken a 1-0 lead on Tommy Fallen’s power-play goal late in the first period. Fallen, stationed at the top of the left circle, intercepted a Hatch clearing attempt from behind the net. He fired the puck over goalie Troy Grosenick’s glove.
“I was calling for the puck there because ‘Cobs’ [defenseman Greg Coburn] had a lot of pressure there,” Hatch said. “He gave me a soft chip. I just flubbed it. I had one guy pressuring me, but I didn’t see the other guy. I gave it right to [Fallen]. I couldn’t get out to block it. Just a little misfire in the corner there.”
Novak tied it midway through the second. With teammate Shayne Gostisbehere in the penalty box for indirect contact to the head-elbowing, Novak skated down the left wing.
“I had a little bit of room on the PK to skate it up, and I heard guys on the bench yelling, ‘Drive him wide,’ ” Novak said. “I just took it to the net, and threw it on net.”
Novak’s backhanded flip hit the inside of Maricic’s left pad and trickled in to tie the score, 1-1, with 11:35 left in the second.
“I thought Max Novak’s goal was one of the biggest goals of the year,” Union coach Rick Bennett said, “just for the fact that it got us going, but it’s what we’re all preaching, — drive wide, put pucks on net and good things are going to happen. By sticking with it, it finally happened.”
Novak’s goal was a thing of beauty compared to Hatch’s tally.
Hatch was standing behind the goal line to the right of the net. He didn’t have a good angle to shoot the puck, but he threw it to the net, anyway.
Somehow, the puck hit the inside of Maricic’s right pad and caromed into the net with four minutes left in the second.
“Our line had a good forecheck going,” Hatch said. “ ‘Sully’ [Kevin Sullivan] passed the puck to Jooris. I was putting it on net, just trying to hit [Maricic’s] stick and get some guys crashing the net. He put it in himself. It was a pretty lucky goal. I was pretty shocked, but it was a good-time goal, and our line deserved the goal.”
Maricic, a senior who was starting only because No. 1 senior goalie Jeff Malcolm is hurt, was replaced nearly 90 seconds later by sophomore Connor Wilson, who was making just his fifth career appearance.
The Dutchmen kept up the pressure on Wilson in the third period and scored twice.
The first goal came during a two-man advantage, which carried over from the second period. Mat Bodie sent the puck to his brother, Kyle, at the top of the slot. Kyle Bodie fired a shot that Wilson stopped. But the rebound came right to Wayne Simpson at the bottom of the left circle, and the senior right winger had an easy power-play goal.
“We did a great job of executing,” said Mat Bodie, who surpassed Lane Caffaro to become Union’s all-time scoring defenseman with 80 points. “We had some chances in the second period on that five-on-three and didn’t bury it, but we stuck with it. ‘Wayneo’ was right there on the backdoor.”
Daniel Carr got Union’s last goal with 11 minutes left to make it 4-1. Charlie Vasaturo chipped the puck from the left-wing boards to Jooris behind the net. Jooris spotted Carr coming down the slot. Jooris’ pass was perfect, and Carr fired the puck past Wilson’s left side.
Yale 1 0 1 — 2
Union 0 2 2 — 4
First Period — 1, Yale, Fallen 9, 17:36 (pp). Penalties — Wilkins, Uni (slashing), 6:08; Ciampini, Uni (tripping), 10:24; Root, Yale (hooking), 12:20; Gingras, Uni (holding), 16:42; Vasaturo, Uni (interference), 17:43; Bourbonais, Yale (indirect contact to head-roughing), 20:00.
Second Period — 2, Union, Novak 5, 8:25 (sh). 3, Union, Hatch 7 (Sullivan, Jooris), 16:00. Penalties — Gostisbehere, Uni (indirect contact to head-elbowing), 7:36; Yale bench, served by Agostino (too many men), 12:31; Young, Yale (indirect contact to head-roughing), 18:47; O’Gara, Yale (boarding), 19:21.
Third Period — 4, Union, Simpson 13 (K. Bodie, M. Bodie), :31 (pp). 5, Union, Carr 11 (Jooris, Vasaturo), 9:00. 6, Yale, Miller 11 (Agostino, S. Wilson), 11:09 (pp). Penalties — Simpson, Uni (interference), 9:40; Vasaturo, Uni (holding), 15:14; M. Bodie, Uni (tripping), 17:55.
Shots on Goal — Yale 10-10-19 — 39. Union 11-16-15 — 42.
Power-play opportunities — Yale 2 of 8; Union 1 of 5.
Goalies — Yale, Maricic (23 shots-21 saves), C. Wilson 0-1-0 (17:23 second, 19-17). Union, Grosenick 10-7-5 (39-37).
A — 2,085. T — 2:22.
Referees — Tim Kotyra, Chris Ciamaga. Linesmen — Mike Emanatian, Justin Prusak.