NEW HAVEN, Conn. — With little at stake on the final night of the ECAC Hockey regular season, defending national champion Yale dominated visiting Rensselaer, 5-0, to claim a tie for fifth place and the sixth seed in the league playoffs.
Senior Jesse Root opened the scoring for the Bulldogs (15-9-5, 10-8-4 ECAC); junior Anthony Day, sophomore Ryan Obuchowski, and freshmen Frankie DiChiara and Mike Doherty contributed goals as well. Rookie Alex Lyon made 18 saves for his second shutout of the season. While Yale was already assured a first-round home series in the league playoffs next weekend, the team’s effort was never in question.
“We were playing for our seniors; those are three of my best friends, and three of the greatest players in Yale history,” Day explained. “It was for them, to send them out on a good note here at Ingalls. It was a privilege to be with those guys tonight.”
Coming off a big 3-0 home-series-clinching victory at Brown Friday night, the Engineers (14-14-6, 8-9-5) never posed a serious threat to their hosts. A scoreless tie halfway through the second period got away from frustrated RPI, as junior Scott Diebold (36 saves) could only keep Yale at bay for so long.
“Yale was outstanding tonight,” coach Seth Appert said. “We had a couple chances to make plays, went offsides on two two-on-ones and had a few other chances … we didn’t take advantage of that. They had a good push in the second, we made a few bad puck decisions there that led to that first goal.”
Winning the game was never the issue: these two teams were each destined for first-round home series by Friday’s results. As a consequence, Saturday’s Rensselaer-Yale contest qualified as a postseason tune-up.
“Whoever you play, you wanna beat; you want to win,” said Appert. “I thought both teams played desperate. Both teams played as though there were a lot on the line, but they were better than us.”
Captain Root broke a scoreless deadlock just prior to the game’s midpoint, getting the final poke on a puck that had snuck behind Diebold. The rush leading up to the goal appeared to cross RPI’s blue line offsides, but play continued nonetheless.
Day doubled RPI’s trouble early in the third on a two-on-one. While looking off Diebold, the Buffalo winger wired a wrister high to the near side and over the goalie’s blocker. DiChiara pinned another on the board 10 minutes later, squeaking a slap shot through Diebold’s armpit from the left-wing halfboards.
Doherty and Obuchowski put the game to bed with under two minutes remaining. Doherty beat Diebold from a low angle on a power play, while defenseman Obuchowski blew a slap shot past the beleaguered netminder 34 seconds later.
Yale will play host to historic arch-rival Harvard next weekend in the first round of the best-of-three ECAC Hockey playoffs; the Bulldogs took the season series with the Crimson, 1-0-1, and also defeated Harvard in a nonconference game at Madison Square Garden in mid-January.
RPI will welcome suddenly simmering Dartmouth to Troy’s Houston Field House. The Engineers swept the Big Green in league action, 2-0.