Freshman forward Christian Jensen had a hat trick and an assist and Peter Cohen made 27 saves to lead the Yale Bulldogs to an ECAC weekend sweep, defeating Union 7-3 in front of a sellout crowd of 3,486 at Ingalls Rink.
“I must have gotten lucky, I guess,” Jensen said of his hat trick, which tied the freshman record for goals in a game set by senior Eli blueliner Bryan Freeman. “[Ryan Steeves and Evan Wax] are two great linemates. It is pretty easy to play with them.”
The victory was Yale’s third consecutive league win. The Bulldogs picked up four points on the weekend (Yale defeated RPI 5-2 on Friday night) along with 12 goals.
“This was a great weekend for us,” Yale captain Denis Nam said. “We got our offense going, played tighter defense, and it made for an overall good weekend.”
Yale had a 37-30 shots on goal differential, but both squads produced numerous quality scoring chances. For the second consecutive night, though, Yale capitalized on its opportunities and got great goaltending from Cohen.
“He has been a stalwart so far,” Jensen said of the sophomore netminder. “He has really stepped up and played well these last three games.”
The Bulldogs lit the lamp first early in the game when Wax took a pretty feed from Steeves who was positioned behind the net. Steeves’ pass nicked off of Christian Jensen’s stick and Wax one-timed it past Union goalie Tim Roth at 1:56. It was the first of three assists for Steeves, and the only goal of the period, which saw Yale outshoot Union 13-10.
“We played with more intensity at the beginning tonight,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. “It did not take time to get our energy up, and we need to be a high energy team. When we play with that energy, we can be pretty effective.”
The Bulldogs’ intensity paid off in a four-goal, 12-shot second period that put the game away. Yale took the 2-0 lead on a spectacular play by Chris Higgins. After taking a feed from Stacey Bauman, Higgins came in on Roth but had his angle cut down by Dutchmen defender Glenn Sanders. Higgins still managed to get off a shot, but it went off target. He stayed with the puck, though, and fed Vin Hellemeyer a back pass from the boards that Hellemeyer netted from the doorstep at 6:06.
Yale’s lead increased to three goals just 1:32 later when Nam skated around the Union net and tucked a quick shot past Roth’s stick, as Yale scored on its first two shots on net of the stanza. Union used a power play to draw within two tallies. Assistant Captain Kris Goodjohn, positioned between the circles, one-timed a feed from captain Nathan Gillies at 9:20 to make it 3-1.
But, as they did all weekend, the Bulldogs quickly responded to an opponent’s score. Jensen redirected Joe Callahan’s shot from the point at 9:33 for Yale’s fourth goal in a span of 3:27 which also knocked Roth (15 saves) from the game. Yale was quick to answer both Rensselaer goals on Friday night and answered the Dutchmen’s first two tallies on Saturday night. The only goal unanswered by the Elis was Union’s last, which came with 1:04 left in the contest.
“Having four answer-back goals this weekend speaks to the character of this team,” Taylor said. “I know the guys get upset when we allow a goal and it’s nice to see that it does not get us down.”
Even a new Dutchmen netminder, Kris Mayotte, could not keep the home team off the scoreboard for long. Jensen made it two goals in a row with a backhander between the circles that flew over the shoulder of Mayotte at 18:38 to give Yale a 5-1 lead. Jensen reeled in a shot from Evan Wax who was inside the blueline.
The third period saw no scoring until the mid-point, but then three goals were scored in a span of 1:36. Jason Kean’s snapshot beat Cohen low on the glove side at 11:02 to drop the margin to three but Nam answered with a brilliant move 1:16 later to re-assert the Bulldog lead to four goals. Jensen added his third of the night 20 seconds later after the Bulldogs won a draw in the Union zone. Marc Neron tallied the final goal for Union with 1:04 remaining.
Yale now has three wins in four conference contests; last year it took the Bulldogs eight games to accomplish that feat.