Denver travelled east to take on Yale on Saturday afternoon, and they brought a little bit of rocky mountain weather with them. It was a wet, windy atmosphere at faceoff.
Denver has been a fringe Top 20 team in the IL media poll all year, but has notched an impressive win against UNC. Taking down Yale would be a major resume boost for the Pios. To do that, they’d need to slow down a talented Yale offense that thrives in unsettled situations, and is triggered by the dynamic attack of Matt Brandau, Leo Johnson, and Chris Lyons.
Yale is looking to keep building on an impressive performance against UMass. The Minutemen have a strong defense and excellent goaltender, and Yale was still able to net 18 goals. Yale’s defense looked improved, and their team defense would need to be strong against dodging threats like JJ Sillstrop from Denver.
The game developed into a tug of war between conflicting styles. Denver wanted to play the game with 80 second possessions, slowing it down as much as they could. Yale wanted to have their foot on the gas, pushing the tempo whenever they could.
Yale opened the scoring just over 30 seconds in with a righty low shot from Brad Sharp, before Michael Lampert answered on the other end. Alec Stathakis cleanly won each of the first three faceoffs.
Sharp would net his second on a nice feed from Matt Brandau, however Richie Connell would answer. Connell was the benefactor of Denver successfully breaking the Yale press ride with a deep three quarter field pass to the attack, followed by a quick feed to Connell in front. The up and down opening felt like Yale’s script in action.
The goal trading continued with Brandau’s first of the day, making it 44 straight games with a goal, as he ran off a nice pick set at GLE by Patrick Hackler to free his hands and beat Denver goalie Malcolm Kleban low.
At the end of the first it was 4-3 Yale, and the game had started to feel like it was following a Denver script. Possession was tilted the Pioneers way, and the Denver defense settled in after a rocky start. But in the second, Yale turned up the heat.
They scored two unanswered to push their lead to 6-3, with Krevsky and Kuhl doing the damage. Kuhl’s came on a turnover that Yale forced on the ride, which Denver had been able to handle pretty well coming in. JJ Sillstrop would get his first of the day on man up, but Brandau quickly answered to push the lead to 7-4.
Sillstrop would score again on a nice assist inside from Avery. Yale would be flagged for an illegal body check, adding insult to injury, giving Denver an opportunity to close the lead with a locked in minute penalty. However, after a long time up at the faceoff spot, Nicholas Ramsey would come away with his biggest win of the game to that point, allowed Yale to kill off the penalty and limit Denver’s damage.
Yale would lead 7-5 at the half and would start the third quarter with the ball following a push call against AJ Mercurio.
Denver started the third by playing two and a half minutes of defense without allowing a goal, as they killed the penalty and multiple clock resets. However, Sharp would beat his man in early offense and complete his hat trick, pushing the lead to 8-5 Yale.
Brandau added another shortly after, and Yale began to pull away. Malik Sparrow committed a cross check, giving Yale a man up. The Bulldogs created a good look for David Anderson, but he wouldn’t convert. After mishandling a feed, Anderson was tangled up with a Denver stick and was called for delay of game as he ran towards the box with the stick still tangled up in his pads.
Denver continued to try to slow the pace, but Kyle Zawadzki would push the lead to 10-5, making it more and more difficult for Denver to try and play a slow paced game.
Denver would start the 4th quarter on man up following a foul by Jake Cohen, needing to erase a five goal deficit. Jared Paquette’s hot streak would continue as he made an early save, but Avery finally put one by him on an individual effort to make it 10-6.
Patrick Hackler would add a goal in transition to push the lead back to five. A man up for Denver with 8 minutes left felt like a must have for them to stay in it, and Josh Carlson converted it for the Pios. The following possession would end in Denver’s 17th turnover of the day. However the Denver ride would win the ball back on a diving interception by Thomas Bragg. The Pios defense would hold yet again, and on the ensuing possession, Lambert would score on a spectacular diving effort to cut the Yale lead to 3.
However, Stathakis jumped on the following faceoff would give Yale a possession to continue to try and chew up clock. A save by Kleban on Brandau was turned into a quick clear, and Avery scored again, Denver's third straight and pulling the Pioneers within two.
Denver would hold on defense yet again as Yale tried to close the game out, and took over on offense with 48 seconds left. Denver had a good look, but an Avery shot went wide and was backed up by Jack Monfort.
A few heaves up and down the field closed the game, and Yale came away victorious.
They’ll take on Cornell next week, while Denver returns home to host Ohio State.