Yale Looks for Home Ice on Senior, Alumni Weekend
The Yale men's hockey team (14-12-1, 9-10-1 ECAC) aspires to skate at the Whale in the post season. Heading into this weekend's ECAC Hockey set with Dartmouth (12-13-2, 10-9-1) and Harvard (13-10-4, 11-6-3), the Bulldogs can clinch a home ECAC Hockey series with four points during the last two games of the regular season. The Elis, who have won 5 of their last 6, skate with the Big Green on Friday to kick off Yale Hockey Alumni Weekend. Saturday, in a game airing live on ESPN3, the Blue hosts the Crimson. Both 7 p.m. games, which comprise Yale's Senior Weekend, can be seen live on the Ivy League Network. Limited tickets are available for Friday and Saturday's contest is SOLD OUT.
Yale has a 113-93-14 edge in the series with Dartmouth and is 17-6-2 in the last 24 meetings. There have been 257 Yale-Harvard meetings in eight different cities. The first took place on Feb. 26, 1900, in New York, a 5-4 Yale victory. The Crimson lead the all-time series 145-91-21.
Devin Buffalo stopped 26 of 27 shots on Nov. 4 in a 3-1 Dartmouth win over Yale at Thompson Arena. Joe Snively had the Eli tally. The night before against No. 3 Harvard, the Elis had goals from five other players in a 5-2 win that included 33 saves from Sam Tucker.
Yale is coming off a two-point weekend in New York that included a 4-3 win against Colgate and a 3-2 loss to No. 4 Cornell. Joe Snively had two goals against the Raiders and a four-point weekend. The Bulldogs increased their win streak to 5 by erasing a pair of deficits while tilting the ice over the last half of the contest. Yale had two leads the next night at Lynah Rink and nearly got the win with 36 saves from Corbin Kaczperski.
The Big Green, who have won 3 of the last 4, head into the weekend in fifth place with hopes of hosting a playoff series after sweeping Clarkson and St. Lawrence at Hanover a week ago. Sophomore Shane Sellar has a team-high 9 goals, while classmate Will Graber leads the squad with 19 points. Senior Devin Buffalo (2.78, .908), who held Yale to just a goal in November, has had most of the work in the Dartmouth net.
The fourth-place Crimson have clinched a first-round playoff bye after winning three straight, including a sweep of the North Country teams at Boston last week. They play Brown at Providence on Friday hoping to move ahead of Clarkson into third place. Ryan Donato, who has been with Team USA at the Olympics, leads the Cantabs with 21 goals and 31 points. Senior Merrick Madsen (2.19, .922) has been Harvard's top netminder and is one of 7 NHL draft picks on the roster.
Yale is 4-2-1 against nationally ranked teams this year… The Blue finished 5-2 in non-conference games…Alex Lyon stopped 25 of 26 shots on Sunday against the Rangers to help Philly take a 7-4 win. The former Yale All-American entered the game at the start of the second period and earned his first NHL win… Andrew Miller '13 leads the AHL in points with 51. The Charlotte Checkers forward has 15 goals and 36 assists.
RED, WHITE & 4 BLUE
Former Yale All-American forwards from consecutive classes Mark Arcobello '10, Broc Little '11 and Brian O'Neill '12 are wearing red, white and Blue for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team. All three play professionally in Europe and skated for Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach, who is an assistant on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team.
28- CAPTAIN HITCHCOCK
Senior forward Ryan Hitchcock was voted captain by his teammates for the 2017-18 season. The Manhasset, N.Y., native has notched 19 goals and 65 points in his 99-game college career, which has been shortened by injuries the last two seasons. In 2016-17, Hitchcock, who was voted by his teammates as the top passer among the Elis, dished out a team-leading 16 helpers before a Jan. 14 injury derailed the remainder of his season. Prior to his time at Yale, Hitchcock was a member of the United States National Team Development Program, where he won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. U18 squad at the 2014 World Championships. Hitchcock followed up that international experience by helping Team USA to a bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Juniors in Finland. The U.S. team beat Sweden 8-3 to grab third place. Hitchcock, the third line left wing for the U.S. squad and the eighth Bulldog to play in this tournament, played in every game while becoming the first Eli to earn a medal at the world juniors.
Junior forward Joe Snively (Herndon, Va.), who leads the nation with 3 shorthanded goals and 5 game-winners and is a semifinalist for the Walter Brown Award, is 7th nationally with .63 goals per game and 19th in Division I with 1.16 points per game. He tops Yale with 17 goals and 31 points after notching 5 goals and 7 points over the last 3 games, including his first collegiate hat trick on Feb. 10 against Princeton. Snively was one of five players selected to the Pre-season Coaches All-ECAC Hockey Team after netting 1.18 points per game in 2016-17, which ranked 21st in the nation. An All-Ivy League honorable mention from a season ago, Snively had three multiple-goal outings in 2016-17, including consecutive games against Holy Cross and RPI. Snively (98 pts, 92 career games) has already registered six multi-goal games and seven multi-point outings this season.
Junior goalie Sam Tucker (Wilton, Conn.) has enjoyed some excellent performances this season, but his best may have been in the 3-2 win over Quinnipiac on Feb. 9. He made 29 saves while surviving six power plays. Tucker, who had 34 saves in a 3-3 OT tie with No. 4 Cornell on Jan. 12, made his collegiate debut on Nov. 12, 2016, in a relief appearance against Cornell, and eventually won his first collegiate game against UConn on Jan. 7, 2017. Tucker seized the starting job as the Elis headed into the 2017 ECAC playoffs, where he stopped 68 of 71 shots in first round playoff action against Dartmouth. Tucker has been solid this season, recording a 2.83 goals against average and an .902 save percentage. His Nov. 18 effort at Quinnipiac was one of the best of Tucker's career with 40 saves.
33 - KACZPERSKI
Sophomore Corbin Kaczperski (China Township, Mich.) has none of the 27 starts starts in net and six wins. His best was a 31-save effort in a 4-2 win over New Hampshire on Dec. 30, though he had a career-high 36 stops in the Feb. 17 game at No. 4 Cornell. However, his greatest test may have been 19 stops in a 5-1 win over Colgate on Jan. 13. Zaczperski's first home appearance included 22 saves in the win over UMass on Jan. 5. His .933 save percentage is 4th in Division I, while his 2.00 goals against ranks No. 9 heading into the weekend.
12 - PALECCO
Freshman forward Dante Palecco (7-6-13), who notched two goals in a Dec. 30 win over New Hampshire, had one of the best weekends for a rookie Bulldog forward in recent memory against St. Lawrence and Clarkson on Nov. 10-11. In a 6-1 win over St. Lawrence on Friday, Palecco netted his first collegiate goal and added two more in scoring the first Yale hat trick since 2012. Palecco chipped in Yale's only goal in a 4-1 loss to No. 8 Clarkson. For his efforts, the Whippany, N.J. native was awarded both the ECAC Hockey Offensive Player and Rookie of the Week.
The blue line is one of Yale's major improvements from last season. Last winter, rookies Matt Foley, Chandler Lindstrand and Billy Sweezey were baptized under fire while Henry Hart '18 was transitioned to defense after playing his first two seasons at forward. The Elis now have a seasoned group. Adam Larkin, Charlie Curti, and Anthony Walsh are veterans who are helping freshmen Phil Kemp and Brian Matthews with the transition. Curti and Matthews had goals against Arizona State.
Seven freshmen joined the team this year (4 F, 2 D, 1G). Two are from Canada and played junior hockey in the British Columbia Hockey League, while the other five come from around the U.S. and competed in the United States Hockey League last season. Yale's freshmen have accounted for 15 goals and 33 points this season. Forwards Dante Palecco (player, rookie of week) and Kevin O'Neil (rookie) have earned ECAC Hockey honors this season. First-year defenseman Phil Kemp (18 gp, 2-5-7), an Edmonton Oiler draft pick, was named to the roster of the U.S. National Junior Team's pre-IIHF tournament camp.
UP NEXT FOR THE BLUE
The Blue will play in next week's first round of the ECAC Hockey Playoffs. The top 4 teams (Cornell, Clarkson, Harvard, Union) have a bye and host quarterfinal series the following week. Seeds 5 through 8 host the rest of the field in best-of-3 sets that air on ECAC Hockey's streaming provider.
The Bulldogs have four seniors (6 goals), including two forwards, and two defensemen. There are seven juniors (31), nine sophomores (27), and seven newcomers (15).
13,14 - SMITH TWINS
It is very possible that Evan and Mitchell Smith are the first twins to skate for the Yale men's hockey team. The Stouffville, Ontario, brothers, who have combined for 13 goals and 24 points this winter, have been skating on the same team since they began organized hockey and have been linemates for most of the last dozen years. However, they've mostly been on separate lines since coming to New Haven, and that has worked well for them. The identical twins, wearing jerseys No. 13 (Evan) and 14 (Mitchell), attended Salisbury School before playing for Dubuque in the USHL. Even teammates are challenged to tell the difference between the two, but Evan (6-0, 190), who scored the OT winner against ASU on Feb. 3, is listed as an inch taller and five pounds heavier than Mitchell. Evan became the first Eli since Brian O'Neill in 2012 to score four goals when he helped his team beat Princeton on Feb. 10. Smith did that on just five shots on goal.
Yale went four seasons without a hat trick and now has four in 2017-18. Rookie forward Dante Palecco had his first three career goals on Nov. 10 at home against St. Lawrence. Junior forward Ted Hart notched his first three-goal college game on the road against Union on Dec. 2. Both Bulldogs were skating those nights on a line with Ryan Hitchcock and Joe Snively and the Elis won both contests. The latest to have hat tricks are Evan Smith and Snively, who combined for all 7 goals on Feb. 10 against Princeton.
Yale is 2nd in the nation with 6 shorthanded goals this year trailing only Northern Michigan (7). Joe Snively is tied with a bunch of players as the national leader in SHGs with 3. Ryan Hitchcock, Luke Stevens and Robbie DeMontis have the others for Yale.
YALE HOSTING REGIONAL
Yale and Fairfield will co-host the 2018 Division I Men's Ice Hockey Regional at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport on March 23-24. The two schools also brought the regional to the state of Connecticut in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014. The other sites for the 2018 tournament include the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. (Host: Penn State), the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. (Holy Cross), and Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. (North Dakota). The 2018 Frozen Four will take place at the Xcel Center in Saint Paul, Minn. (Minnesota).
Yale has played in Alaska and in Canada, but the Bulldogs have never skated outside of North America for a "regular-season" game. That will change next November in Belfast, Ireland. Yale, Union, Boston University and UConn play in the 2018 Northern Irish Connections Friendship Four Tournament (Nov. 23-24). The squads square off at The SSE Arena, home of the Belfast Giants, a professional team that competes within the Elite Ice Hockey League. The arena has hosted the Friendship Four Tournament since 2015.
DID YOU KNOW
Yale defenseman Adam Larkin's family has hockey in its blood. Larkin's cousin Dylan skates for the Detroit Red Wings, while his brother Ryan is the starting goaltender for Miami. Additionally, Larkin's cousin and Dylan's older brother, Colin was a Division III All-American for UMass Boston last season… Will D'Orsi's father, Scott, played forward for the Bulldogs from 1986-90 and registered 70 points… Newcomer Phil Kemp comes from a family of athletes. Both his grandfather and great uncle played football for the Elis, while his brother played Lacrosse at Brown and his sister rows at Harvard. The Yale roster doesn't have much of an international flair, but at least six languages can be spoken among the group.
Twenty seasons ago, Tim Taylor led the Bulldogs (23-9-3, 17-4-1 ECAC, 7-2-1 Ivy) to their first ECAC Championship by winning the regular season and getting an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Captain Ray Giroux and the Elis had a 7-game win streak that propelled them to the top of the conference standings. The 20th anniversary of this great Yale team will be celebrated on alumni weekend, Feb. 23-24, at Ingalls Rink, along with a recognition of the 2012-13 squad that won the national championship five years ago.
by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD/Sports Publicity Director - email@example.com