Friday, March 1, 2013

Yale controls its own destiny in ECAC race

As usual, it will be an exciting finish in ECAC Hockey. While Quinnipiac's overtime loss at Harvard has little consequence other than perhaps knocking it from a three-week stay atop the national polls, the battle for the top four won't be decided until Saturday night. RPI has clinched the second seed, but Yale, Union, St. Lawrence and Dartmouth will slug it out for the final two first-round byes.

Yale controls its own destiny. A win over Cornell will sew up third place and give the Bulldogs the much-desired pass into the ECAC quarterfinal round. But a loss could send them as far down as sixth place.

As for Friday night's game, the Bulldogs started strong, allowed three goals in the first 10 minutes of the third period before scratching their way back. Andrew Miller (two goals) sent it to overtime before Josh Balch won it with just 2.5 seconds remaining. Balch has two goals this season, both came in OT.

"Both Josh and Andrew, two seniors, had outstanding nights," Yale coach Keith Allain said. "Josh made a great play to set up the (Clint) Bourbonais goal, taking the puck coast to coast. He's out there for a reason."

Balch wasn't sure how the puck landed on his stick in overtime. Video review showed a Colgate player sent the puck off the back boards, where a fortunate bounce sent it to him in the crease.

"It all happened really fast," Balch said. "We went down on a rush. Stu cycled it behind the net and it took a fortunate bounce to me and I got it over the goalie’s shoulder. I think it bounced off a defenseman’s stick and then it hit the side of the net. I went straight to the net and was fighting for position, and the puck came straight to me. It went over the goalie’s right shoulder.”
Balch was all over the ice. He nearly scored a short-hander in the first period, ringing one off the cross-bar.

Cornell comes into Ingalls Saturday riding a five-game unbeaten streak.


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