Yale is a counterpuncher. The Bulldogs swarmed Lowell, tilting the ice with their deft passing and aggression. Senior forward Andrew Miller netted the game-winner 6:59 into overtime with a dazzling move around two Lowell defenders before slipping the puck between the legs of River Hawks goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.
Such ample room to maneuver figures to be difficult to come by against Quinnipiac. Yale scored twice in the first seven minutes of the first meeting between the two schools on Feb 2. The ensuing 173 minutes have seen the Bulldogs solve Hartzell just once.
“We’re really good at our game, and we need to stay the course,” Pecknold said. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We could play the Montreal Canadiens ... and we’re going to play the same way.”
So, apparently, will Yale. The Bulldogs consider themselves grinders at heart. They hand out a yellow hockey helmet following each victory to the player deemed most valuable. It went to Miller after the win over Lowell, and he proudly pointed to the stickers slapped across it, including ones indicating the year the school was founded (1701).
The helmet also features the letters “VM” in black. It comes from the Swedish word for “world championship.”
The stakes aren’t quite that high — not technically —but that doesn’t mean it won’t feel like it. What better time for Yale to turn things around. Three solid periods on Saturday night will erase whatever supremacy the upstarts from down the road showed earlier in the year.
“What happened in the regular season in the playoffs doesn’t really matter at this point,” Yale forward Antoine Laganiere said. “It’s just a one and done.
“It’s a whole new time.”
AP sports writer Pat Eaton-Robb contributed to this report from Hartford, Conn.