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Mike Ayers recorded his fourth shutout of the season and Sean Collins had a goal and two assists as New Hampshire handed Yale a 5-0 loss before a sellout crowd at Ingalls Rink. The win marked a solid comeback for the No. 6 Wildcats from a 4-0 loss to Denver in the Denver Cup last weekend.
“We played a good game overall,” New Hampshire head coach Dick Umile said. “I thought we played great in the first 10 minutes, but then [Yale head coach] Tim Taylor made some adjustments. We got the first goal and they had some chances after that, but I am happy with the win.”
Ayers stopped all 21 shots he faced, including several from point-blank range to refute Yale’s best scoring chances of the game. Ayers’ counterpart in net, Yale freshman goalie Josh Gartner, kept the game scoreless for much of the first.
New Hampshire recorded the first seven shots on goal and nine of the first 10, but the game was still scoreless midway through the opening period. Gartner gave Yale a shot in the arm with a tremendous save on a Collins’ breakaway with 8:44 left in the first. Collins attempted to tuck the puck under Gartner’s glove, the Eli goaltender held his ground and went down to stop the shot and contain the puck, bringing the crowd of 3,486 to life.
New Hampshire scored a few minutes later on an odd shot from captain Patrick Foley. On a line change, Collins flipped the puck high in the Yale end and Foley, caught in between a pair of Bulldog blueliners 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 15:28. That was the only goal of the period, during which UNH outshot Yale 11-7.
The second period saw each team enjoy several strong scoring chances, with both goaltenders once again coming up big. Gartner made several more spectacular saves, but New Hampshire’s crisp passing paid off again 15:55 into the second. 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 sent a behind-the-back pass to Collins, who sent a one-timer low past Gartner for a 2-0 cushion that held until the break.
Yale had several chances, including one power play (0-for-4) but Ayers did not budge.
“I thought we did some things and at times accomplished a real good edge territorially, and creating scoring opportunities,” Taylor said. “We had some great chances to tie it up early in the second, but in the end, they scored and we didn’t.”
It was all UNH in the third. Just after killing a penalty, Lanny Gare intercepted a Yale pass in the Wildcat end and hit Andrew Leach as he came out of the penalty box. Leach accelerated along the right boards and cut to the center of the ice before sending a high shot over Gartner’s left shoulder at 4:28.
Saviano added the visitors’ fourth goal at 7:25 with a rising shot from high in the slot to seal the game. Gartner, who finished with 20 saves on the night, was chased when Gare nailed his eight goal of the year to increase the lead to five just over two minutes later. Peter Cohen finished the third period in net for Yale.
New Hampshire hosts Merrimack on Saturday, while the Bulldogs are next in action next Friday at Harvard.