January 29, 2009

Tigers, Cats Looking for Bulldogs

Jan. 29, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The 2008-09 Yale men's hockey team (13-5-1, 8-3-1 ECAC Hockey), 6-1-1 over its last eight outings and sitting second in ECAC Hockey, has an all cat weekend at Ingalls coming up. The No. 9 Princeton Tigers (13-5-0, 8-4-0, 3rd) and the Bobcats from Quinnipiac (13-9-2, 6-4-2, 5th) come to town for a pair of 7 p.m. games against a Bulldog squad coming off an improbable weekend sweep in upstate New York and a new No. 18 ranking. Both games can be seen live for free on Yale All Access by clicking here: Yale All*Access. The Yale-Quinnipiac game is on NESN (DirecTV 628).

SERIES

Yale leads the series 121-99-8 though Princeton has taken five of the last six, including four of the five played last winter. Quinnipiac has won five straight against Yale since falling (4-3) in the first-ever meeting in 2005-06 at Ingalls Rink.

LAST MEETINGS

The Tigers took two of three in the 2008 ECAC Quarterfinals at Princeton last March, outscoring the Blue by a combined 10-4. Zane Kalemba (83 saves) had the decisions in net for Princeton in all three and had a pair of shutouts. Yale's Alec Richards (35) was in net for the 3-0 loss in the opener. Billy Blase, who made 60 saves over two nights, had the other time in the Eli goal. Jean-Francois Boucher, Ryan Donald, Broc Little and Brendan Mason tallied in game No. 2, a 4-3 Yale win. Five different Bobcats scored goals as No. 16 Quinnipiac defeated Yale 5-1 before 4,213 at TD Banknorth Sports Center last February. Bud Fisher stopped 25 of 26 shots and did not allow a goal on six Yale power-play chances to earn the win in net. Yale outshot the Bobcats 26-25 but never put sustained pressure on Fisher. Billy Blase stopped 13 shots before being replaced with nearly 17 minutes left in the third.

BLUE NETS FIRST WIN AT LYNAH IN 9 YEARS

Yale upped its mark to 5-1 against ranked teams this season by skating past No. 3 Cornell 4-3 before a packed Lynah Rink. The win snapped the Big Red's 10-game unbeaten streak and gave the Blue its first win at Ithaca since 1999. Four different Bulldogs scored goals, three during 4-on-4s, as the visitors outshot the Red 36-20. Brendan Mason had a goal and two assists before leaving the game with an injury in the third period. The other goals came from Jeff Anderson, Tom Dignard and Mark Arcobello on a night when the Elis went 1-for-4 with the man advantage. Ryan Rondeau stopped 17 of 20 shots while keeping the home team off the board on seven of eight power plays.

AMAZING COMEBACK AT HAMILTON

Yale, trailing by four goals with just over 12 minutes left in the game, scored five straight and stunned Colgate 5-4 in OT at Starr Rink last Saturday. Kevin Limbert's goal one minute into the OT ended the game. Yale junior defenseman Tom Dignard had two goals and one assist while Broc Little and Sean Backman also hit the net. The Bulldogs pulled out a weekend road sweep and one of the most improbable comebacks ever by outshooting the Raiders 46-16, including 19-5 in the third period.

TIGERS BURNING BRIGHT

Defending ECAC Tournament champ Princeton, which had a string of 12 wins in 13 games, is coming off a 2-1 win over Robert Morris on Monday. Junior F Mark Magnowski leads the team with seven goals while Zane Kalemba (.935, 1.60, 13-3) heads a defense that ranks fifth in Division I goals allowed (1.94). Despite the 2008-09 success, Princeton has lost its last three ECAC games.

BOBCATS BACK IN THE LEAGUE

Quinnipiac, 7-3-1 over the last 11, has not played a league game since falling to Union on Jan. 10. The Cats boast the sixth best power play (21.0) in the nation and nine players who average 126 career games played (Yale's active leader is Matt Nelson with 88). Senior F David Marshall has a team-high 14 goals, but Bryan Leitch (9-32) leads with 41 points. Three goalies split the duties: Bud Fisher (.875, 3.92, 4-4); Nick Pisellini (.948, 1.38, 6-2-1) and Dan Clarke (.881, 3.01, 3-3-1).

ROLLING DICE

The Bulldog comeback at Starr Rink was sparked by an unorthodox tactic by Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. He pulled goalie Alec Richards to get a 6-on-5 with the Elis down 4-0 midway through the third frame. The move immediately resulted in a Tom Dignard goal and the flood gates opened on Colgate freshman goalie Alex Evin, who finished with 41 saves.

DIGNARD HAD GREAT WEEKEND

Junior D Tom Dignard (5-10-15) had his best offensive weekend as a Bulldog with three goals and four points. He hit the net once at Cornell and then added 2-1-3 at Colgate, including a shorthander. Dignard, Yale's top scoring blueliner (3rd in ECAC at .79 PPG), was +4 combined for the two wins.

SHOT ON GOAL NEVER A BAD PLAY

The Bulldogs outshot Cornell/Colgate 82-36, including 46-16 against the Raiders. The 30-shot difference was the most for the Blue this season. The only team to outshoot Yale this year was No. 17 Minnesota State (32-31). The Elis average 38 shots per game and allow 25.

NOT KILLING THEM SOFTLY

Yale killed off 13 of 14 PP opportunities and only allowed a combined five shots on goal during those advantages. The Eli PK unit did not allow a Colgate SOG during six chances.

GET SHORTY

The Elis have now scored six shorthanded goals this year while allowing three. Tom Dignard, who scored at Colgate, is the only Bulldog other than Broc Little (school record 5) to tally on the PK.

O'NEILL STREAK

Brian O'Neill (Yardley, Pa.), who leads Yale rookies with 8-7-15, has a goal in five of his last six games and a point in seven staight. O'Neill led the Blue with three goals on the Dartmouth/Harvard trip and was named ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week on Jan. 12. His two GWG are second on the team and he is 14th among Division I rookies (3rd in ECAC) at .83 points per game.

KING OF SHORTY

Sophomore F Broc Little (Rindge, NH) leads the nation with five shorthanded goals, one more than Matt Fairchild of Air Force. That breaks the single-season Yale record held by Andy Weidenbach in 2004-05. It also ties him with Weidenbach for the career mark of five. Colgate's Greg Drechsel (1985-88) holds the ECAC season (8) and career (14) SHG records. Little, who had six goals over four games this year, leads Yale with 20 points (16th in Division I with .58 GPG) and 11 goals (tied with Backman). Little was named ECAC Offensive Player of the Week after netting three goals and five points on Dec. 5 and 6 against RPI and Union.

BACKMAN'S BIG BOUNCE

Junior F Sean Backman (Cos Cob, Conn.) was looking for his first goal in six games late in third period at Colgate last week with his team down a goal. Backman snapped off a nasty wrister from the right circle that caught the cross bar, bounced off the Raider goalie's back and trickled over the goal line to even the score and complete an improbable comeback. The speedy Bulldog, who is tied with Broc Little for the team lead at 11 goals, is ranked 16th in Division I with a .58 goals-per-game. He was 2007 co-ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year and a third-team all-league pick in 2008 (18-9-27). Backman has been team MVP the last two years. He has 47 goals in 80 career games.

YALE NET FLUX

Three men from three classes have shared the duties. Senior Alec Richards (Robbinsdale, Minn.), who has 48 percent of Yale's time in net, came on in relief to earn the win at Colgate with three saves over 15 minutes. His best game this year was 29 saves in a 2-1 win at No. 15 Dartmouth. Richards (8-2, 2.82, .884) has been in goal for 28 Bulldog wins and owns career 2.90 GAA and .903 SP marks. Sophomore Ryan Rondeau (Carvel, Alb.), who was in goal for wins over No. 17 Minnesota State (30 saves), No. 11 Air Force (29) and No. 3 Cornell (17), was pulled after stopping nine of 13 Colgate shots on goal. Rondeau is 4-1 with a 2.27 GAA and a .901 SP while having 30 perecent of Yale's net action. Junior Billy Blase (Santa Monica, Calif.) had a Yale season-high 32 saves in a win at Harvard on Jan. 10 and stopped 26 more in the 2-2 draw with SLU on Jan. 17. He has a 2.71 GAA with a .911 SP.

BLUE FROSH PLAY BIG ROLE

Six of the seven members of the class of 2012 have seen action and they have notched 16 goals. The Yale juniors (26 goals) and sophomores (20) have more, while the more defensive-minded seniors (4) are trailing them all.

ON THE BENCHES

Keith Allain '80, in his third year as the Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, is 3-4 against Princeton and 0-4 against Quinnipiac. He is a two-time Olympic coach who played goal at Yale before becoming a coach. Fifth-year Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky (6-5 vs. Yale) is 46-59-9 with the Tigers and 114-148-34 in his 10th year as a collegiate head coach. Rand Pecknold (5-1 vs. Yale) is in his 15th year at Quinnipiac with a 276-174-43 mark.

ALLAIN AFTER WIN AT COLGATE

"This team never stopped believing they could do it. It's nice to see them get rewarded for that effort. The way were playing, there was just this feeling on the bench that it [pulling the goalie for an extra skater] could work. It was a real roll of the dice, but I really felt like letting the dice roll at that point. I've never done that before."

BULLDOG BITES

The Bulldog comeback at Colgate was the greatest since Yale erased an 8-3 deficit 3:55 into the third period with five straight goals (James Lavish, Mark Kaufmann, Stephen Maltby, Martin Leroux, Lavish) at SLU on 2/27/93 in an 8-8 OT draw. Lavish's last tally came with :31 left... Yale's 13 wins are a significant accomplishment for this point in the year; only 10 Eli teams over the last 35 years have won more in a full year... The 4,267 at Lynah last night was the largest crowd Yale has played before this season... The Elis are now 8-3 in one-goal games this season... Junior F Mark Arcobello (Milford, Conn.) ranks third nationally in GWG (4)... Yale has 20 PPG compared to 21 in all of 2007-08; The school record for PPG in a season is 59 in 1985-86... The Blue, 5-4-1 at home, is 8-1 on the road, the only loss coming at SLU in OT.

YALE VS. DIVISION I

Here's how the Elis stack up against the rest of the nation/ECAC heading into the weekend:

Scoring: 10th/1st (3.47)... Defense: 23rd/5th (2.68)... PIM: 13th/2nd (18.8)... PP: 23rd/4th (17.2)... PK: 22nd//5th (86.3)

THE POLLS

For the second time in three weeks, the Bulldogs are nationally ranked. Three weeks ago, Yale was No. 19 in the USCHO.com/CBS College Sports national poll, the school's first ranking since November 2006. The Elis got four votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll.

RANKED OPPONENTS

Yale has wins over five teams that were listed in the USCHO.com Top 20 Poll at the time: Cornell (3), Air Force (11), Clarkson (15), Dartmouth (15) and Minnesota State (17). The one loss was to Nebraska-Omaha (16). Yale opponents currently ranked in that poll are Cornell (4), Princeton (9), Air Force (19) and Dartmouth (20).

BULLDOGS ON THE POND

The Yale coaching staff decided to break from traditional practice on Jan. 20 by heading back to hockey's birth place. The Bulldogs took a bus to the Course at Yale and laced up their skates on the pond between holes No. 3 and 4 at the famous golf venue. The last time a Yale hockey team skated outdoors was prior to the opening of the New Haven Arena in 1927.

BULLDOGS OF THE PAST

Ex-Yale captain Ray Giroux '98, who has 38 NHL games and earned a Stanley Cup Championship ring with the Devils, is in his fourth year of Russian pro hockey. He was selected as the No. 1 defenseman on Jaromir Jagr's team in the Continental League All-Star Game, which was played outdoors (3 degree temp) at Red Square on Jan. 10... F Jeff Hamilton '00 has 36 points (11 goals) in 33 games for the AHL Chicago Wolves... D Joe Callahan '05 played three games for the Islanders and the rest with the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

HIGGINS THE HAB

There is one former Yale player skating in the National Hockey League. Chris Higgins '05 is in his fifth season with the Montreal Canadiens and has 245 NHL games under his belt. Higgins has 77 goals, 60 assists and 137 points, including 4-5-9 in 18 playoff games and 5-4-9 this season. He is currently out with an injury. The only other Eli to skate in the NHL this season is Joe Callahan '05, who had three games with the Islanders in December.

CONNECTICUT'S NCAA REGIONAL

Yale and Fairfield are co-hosting the first-ever NCAA Hockey Regional Tournament in the Nutmeg State on March 27-28 at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. There are four regional events that weekend with the winners headed to Washington, D.C., for the 2009 Frozen Four. Yale hosted the 2004 NCAA Women's Frozen Four at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., but has never hosted a men's NCAA hockey event. More than 2,600 tickets have already been sold. The one and only appearance for Yale at an NCAA Regional was in 1998 at Ann Arbor, Mich., against Ohio State.

AIRING ELIS

Every home game can be seen live on Yale's All Access (yalebulldogs.com) for free. All home games and select road contests can be heard live on WYBC (AM 1340) and wybc.com. Alex Jenson `09 provides the call for most broadcasts.

YALE TUBE

The Elis are on TV at four times this winter, including two games at Ingalls Rink. Both Quinnipiac games are live TV broadcasts. The game at Ingalls on Jan. 31 is on NESN while the Feb. 20 tilt at TD Banknorth Arena airs live on My9. Yale at Union on Feb. 13 is one of three ECAC games to air live on the NHL Network this regular season. That same network also has three ECAC post-season games. The last game of the regular season is a stand-alone, 4 p.m. ESPNU game with Yale and Colgate on Sunday, March 1, at the Whale.

WHALE WATCHING

A $23.5 million renovation of historic David S. Ingalls Rink is in the second of three phases. The project includes the addition of approximately 13,000 square feet of varsity operational space as well as a complete renovation of the current facility. The expanded and enhanced home of Yale Hockey will include new men's and women's varsity locker rooms, training and strength and conditioning rooms, two new press boxes, a lower level hockey heritage area, offices for coaches of both programs, a student-athlete study area, new lights, as well as a sound system and de-humidification unit. The upper level interior will also be decorated with photos displaying the rich history of Yale Hockey.

release filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director

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