Yale dominated from the opening faceoff to the final whistle to hand Clarkson its fourth straight defeat by the score of 3-1, in front of 2,495 at Clarkson’s Cheel Arena.
The win solidifies Yale’s hopes for a first-round bye in the ECAC playoffs, while the loss nearly guarantees the Golden Knights their first losing season since 1975.
The Elis opened the scoring at 4:32 of the first as Even Wax fed a centering pass from behind the Clarkson net. The pass careened off of goaltender Mike Walsh’s stick and went directly to Jeff Hristovski. Hristovski beat Walsh top shelf to net his and put the visitors on top 1-0.
Despite scoring first, Yale only generated two shots but still controlled play during the first frame as the Knights could not generate many quality chances.
Clarkson was able to get on the board in the first, converting on its first power-play opportunity of the game at 15:04. Captain Kevin O’Flaherty netted his 10th of the year by stuffing home a perfect centering feed from fellow senior Chris Bahen.
“We were lucky to get out of the first 1-1,” said Yale coach Tim Taylor. “This is a tough building to play in. We gathered ourselves during the first intermission and I thought our defense really tightened up and shut down a very good Clarkson club.”
Yale’s defense was key in the second and third periods, only allowing only 14 Clarkson shots in the two frames. The solid defense led a power-play goal halfway through the second period.
Even Wax notched his 18th goal of the season by knocking in the rebound of Ryan Steeves’ shot from the left wing. Walsh made the initial save but could not smother the shot. Wax was in the right spot at the right time and tipped the rebound past Walsh to give Yale a 2-1 lead at 9:56 of the second.
“Ryan tried to hit me with a pass,” said Wax. “Fortunately, Walsh didn’t get a handle on the puck and I just took a whack at it and it found a hole.
“We came out real flat in the first, I don’t know if was bus legs or what. But we fought through it and came away with a real good win here.”
Yale’s defense clamped down even more in the third smothering the Knights to only six shots. Yale’s Mike Klema added the insurance tally at 18:26 of the third. Yale captain Denis Nam fed a pass to Klema which was redirected by a Clarkson defender, causing Walsh to come way out of position. Klema tapped the puck into the empty net, sealing the victory for the Elis.
The win at Cheel was the first for Yale since 1996.
“In this league anything can happen,” said Taylor. “Home ice is important. This was a big win for this program and hopefully we can keep building off of these wins. Every team will be tough in March. Clarkson will especially be tough in this building; I don’t think anyone in the league wants to play anyone else. That’s the nature of the ECAC.”