Overtime has been kind to the Yale Bulldogs. Not only did they top the Central Connecticut Selects in double-overtime to qualify for the 2017 USA Hockey Youth Tier I 15-year-old National Championships, they also won a pair of extra-session games in pool play on Friday and Saturday. Those triumphs propelled them into today’s semifinal against a familiar foe – the Central Connecticut Selects – and in a repeat of the teams’ district championship showdown, Yale won in overtime, this time by a 5-4 count.
Cody Hoban was the hero, driving hard to the net and whacking a rebound past Trevor Giwerowski 24 seconds into the extra session. It was Hoban’s second goal of the game.
“Unreal,” said Hoban. “It’s an unreal feeling. I did it for the boys, for my brothers. We battled back all game. The overtime clutch on our team seems to be going good for us.”
A few minutes earlier, it looked like overtime was a slim hope for Yale after Matthew Crasa converted a slick 2-on-1 with Ryan Coughlin to give Central Connecticut a 4-3 lead with 55 seconds remaining. But Mark D’Agostino made the most of what time remained, scoring for Yale 18 seconds later to tie the score at 4-4.
That set up yet another overtime opportunity for the Bulldogs, their third in three games.
“After that goal, all the momentum was going our way and we knew were going to finish it,” said Hoban. “It was all about our belief in each other.”
With the win, Yale advanced to face the Colorado Evolution in tomorrow’s Youth Tier I 15YO national championship game. The Evolution qualified minutes before Yale with a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pens Elite, their second-straight one-goal win at USA Hockey Nationals.
Against Pittsburgh, Colorado rallied from an early one-goal deficit with goals from Chase Cochran, Anthony Perreault and a pair from Arsenii Smekhnov. Dominic Schimizzi pulled Pens Elite to within a single goal with 55 seconds remaining, but that was as close as they’d come.