Yalies Have Shot at Cups
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - It's the most exciting time of the professional hockey season, and former Yale skaters are competing for Cups named after Stanley, Calder and Kelly.
Starting with Lord Stanley, former Bulldog forward Chris Higgins '05, who came within a game of becoming the first Yalie to win hockey's biggest prize a year ago in Vancouver, looks to help the Canucks get back to the NHL finals again this spring. Higgins finished the regular season with 18 goals and 43 points, helping his squad to the best overall record in the league and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The Canucks host Los Angeles tonight in game two of their playoff series trailing the Kings 1-0.
Higgins' 123 career goals are third among former Yale players in the NHL, while his 482 games are second. Randy Wood '86 (Islanders, Sabres, Maple Leafs, Stars) has held the record for Bulldogs in the NHL with 175 goals and 741 games played since he retired in 1997.
Brad Mills '07 suited up for 27 New Jersey Devils games this winter but is not on the playoff roster for the big club as it enters the NHL playoffs tonight. A defensive forward, he scored six goals and had 22 points in 46 contests with AHL Albany, which did not qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs.
However, four Bulldogs could be competing for an AHL Championship this month. Mark Arcobello '10, who had 15 goals and 41 points in 70 Oklahoma City games, has helped his team finish on top of the West Division standings. His former linemate at Yale, Sean Backman '10 (7-10-17, 64 gp), is part of a Bridgeport team that is atop the Northeast Division.
It would be fun for New Haven area alumni and fans to have those two teams fighting for the Calder Cup at Webster Bank Arena next month.
The only other AHL Bulldogs with hopes for post season are Manchester Monarchs teammates Brian O'Neill '12 and David Meckler '09 (10-5-15). O'Neill, the captain of the Blue this past winter, signed with the pro team a week after the Yale season ended and has a goal and two points. Meckler has been skating in New Hampshire all winter.
Mike Matczak '11 and former Yale captains Ryan Donald '10 and Jimmy Martin '11 are all in the mix for an ECHL Championship. Matczak, who has 11 goals and 35 points in 61 outings, has helped the Kalamazoo Wings to an excellent season. He has a goal and an assist already in the post season after being named "most improved player" by the fans at the end of the regular season.
Donald, with Florida, has three goals and 17 points in 50 games. His claim to fame this winter was the deciding goal in a 15-round shootout win over Chicago in January. Martin (4-10-14), who played with Florida earlier this year, was traded to Elmira and is currently competing in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
In addition to the Bulldogs skating in the NHL, AHL and ECHL, there are Yalies racking up big numbers in outside North America. Broc Little '11 went 35-31-66 in 51 GP in Sweden, while former Yale captain Ray Giroux '98, who has 38 career NHL games played, has 5-12-17 in 48 GP in Russia's KHL… Matt Cohen '07, another former captain, was selected to the ECHL American Conference All-Star Team.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
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