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Two Hat Tricks Propel Yale Over Princeton

The Yale Men’s Hockey Team defeated the Princeton Tigers 7-2 Saturday night at Ingalls Rink thanks to two hat tricks and solid goaltending. Evan Smith would actually score four times on the night including an empty netter late, and Joe Snively notched goals number 13, 14, and 15 in the onslaught. Corbin Kaczperski made 34 saves and was pretty much a wall except for a brief sequence when Princeton got two goals on him.

.”I think when Evan is playing a full game, both on the physical side, and when he’s getting below the goal line, he’s been very good for us,” Yale Assistant Coach Josh Siembida said. “Tonight he was good 200 feet, and that’s what we need from him. That makes us a better team, and that’s a big part of why he had the chances he had and then executed on them.”

Yale got out to a lead early as Smith scored out of nowhere at 1:45 in the first period assisted by Snively and Phil Kemp.

“That was a really good play by [Snively],” Smith explained. “He kinda posted up, drew the defenseman in, and he gave a little pass to me, I was trying to get off really quickly, snuck a way through, I don’t know if I saw it go in.”

Two minutes later, Snively escaped on a breakaway and beat Princeton’s Ryan Ferland assisted this time by Billy Sweezey and by Kaczperski on the setup. Two minutes after that the eventual game winner was scored by Smith after Ted Hart skated in on the attack and shot it on Ferland. It bounced off, but Smith was right in front and slid the rebound around the netminder. The 3-0 Bulldogs lead led to Ferland’s replacement by Ben Halford and the scoring calmed down for awhile.

Another goal wouldn’t be scored until 16:12 of the second. Reid Yochim of Princeton had set a shot on net, it bounced off, presumably to Jackson Cressey and then to Eric Robinson who pushed it by the keeper from right at the net. Just over a minute later, Alex Riche skated into position and smacked it past Kaczperski to give Princeton life. Yochim picked up his second assist as did Ryan Kuffner. The second period would end with Yale ahead 3-2, but the momentum would shift yet again.

1:26 into the third frame, Smith came up with the puck right in front and despite being set upon by two Tigers, he launched it past Halford for the hat trick assisted by Dante Palecco and Kevin O’Neil. Several of the fans did toss their hats in recognition of the feat, likely believing they only needed to bring one hat to tonight’s game.

An insurance goal came when Snively raced onto another breakaway and won the battle of wits with the keeper at 10:10. This time Robbie DeMontis and Adam Larkin joined the assist list for the night. Five minutes later, Snively received the puck from DeMontis across the goal mouth and deposited it in the large amount open net left to him as Halford didn’t slide across in time. O’Neil added his second assist of the day helping to set this up. This ended Halford’s night as Ferland returned once the hats the second group of hats was cleaned up. Yale had not had two hat tricks in a game since January of 2011. When a Bulldog was called for a penalty late in the third, Princeton pulled the netminder for a 6 on 4 advantage, but Smith made them pay for it by flicking a shot across the ice into the empty net at 17:42.

“We were playing the right way, we got a little away from it,” Smith said. “But I mean that happens in hockey. There’s going to be those lows and your highs. We just stuck with it, came out hot in the third period, and it gave us a win,” Smith said.

The story of this game was Yale’s ability to get numerous breakaways, including several they didn’t end up scoring on, as well as open shooting lanes when they didn’t happen to be on a break.

“We saw that they like to go cross seam, so we just adjusted properly, and we were able to pick some off and go the other way,” Smith explained.

Princeton, not for lack of trying with 36 shots, was unable to convert, save for that brief two minutes in the second. Kuffner had six shots, Riche five, and the dangerous Max Veronneau had five. . Many of these opportunities were high quality looks, but Kaczperski and the defense largely put out those fires. and the Bulldogs blocked an additional 18 shots. Plus, Princeton efforts often turned around suddenly when Yale would pick up the odd man rush as often as they did. The struggling defense also only blocked eight shots and Yale still sent 30 shots on Princeton’s net.

“We’re really happy with the way we started,” Siembida said. “You can’t expect to keep them off the scoreboard, or them not to get their chances. Again they carried the play for a little bit in the second, again we came back and we responded the way we needed to, at the right time,”

Yale is now 13-11-1, and 8-9-1 in the ECAC picking up much needed wins in the weekend as they had also defeated Quinnipiac the night before. Princeton is now 11-11-3 and 8-9-1 in the ECAC as well. The Tigers had a better night Friday in a victory at Brown.

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