Blue Skaters On Road This Weekend

Blue Skaters On Road This Weekend

Feb. 18, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The 2008-09 Yale men's hockey team (19-5-1, 14-3-1 ECAC Hockey) has enjoyed a remarkable campaign with plenty of firsts, but the Bulldogs have a lot to prove as they close out their road slate this week. The Bulldogs, 12-1-1 over their last 14 and alone at the top of ECAC Hockey, look to increase their nine-game unbeaten streak when they travel to Quinnipiac (15-13-2, 8-8-2) and Princeton (18-7-0, 12-6-0) this weekend for a pair of 7 p.m. games that can be heard live on WYBC AM-1340 and Friday night's contest at TD Banknorth Sports Center airs live on My9 TV, which can be seen in most of Connecticut.


Yale has a five-point lead over Princeton and is six-points ahead of Cornell. The Elis, picked to finish seventh in both the coaches and media pre-season polls, have clinched a first-round playoff bye and could finish anywhere from first to fourth.


Quinnipiac has won five of the seven meetings with Yale, but the Blue won the first (2005-06) and the last, both at Ingalls Rink. The Bulldogs are 0-2 at TD Banknorth. Yale leads the series with Princeton 122-99-8 though Princeton has taken five of the last seven, including four of the five played last winter.


Sean Backman had two goals and one assist and Alec Richards stopped 32 of 33 shots as the No. 18 Bulldogs knocked off No. 9 Princeton before an Ingalls Rink sellout on Jan. 30. Yale outshot the Tigers 42-33, but the difference was Yale's special teams. The Elis converted two of five power plays and killed off all six of their penalties.


Yale reached first place for the first time in 11 years with a 3-0 win over Quinnipiac on Jan. 31. Alec Richards made 31 saves before an Ingalls sellout. The Cats had the edge (31-28) in shots, but the Dogs broke open a scoreless game with two goals in the second. The Elis also snapped a five-game skid against the Bobcats by blanking the visitors on eight power plays and limiting them to just seven shots on goal during that time. The penalty-filled (74 minutes) affair included Yale going 0-for-9 with the man-advantage, but Bulldogs still had goals from Patrick Brosnihan, Mark Arcobello and Broc Little.


Senior F Patrick Brosnihan (Worcester, Mass.), who has 5-2-7 this year, scored goals in both games last weekend including the game-winner against RPI, a one-timer off a Charles Brockett feed. His goal at Union, which put the Blue ahead to stay in the first period, finished off his best weekend as a collegian and made him the Feb. 16 ECAC Player of the Week. Brosnihan, Yale's tallest player at 6-foot-5, earned his first conference honor.


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

Scoring: 4th/1st (3.52)... Defense: 9th/3rd (2.28)... PIM: 13th/3rd (19.1)... PP: 22nd/5th (17.6)... PK: 8th/1st (88.1).


Yale, seventh in both major polls, has its highest ranking since March 1998 when USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine had the Elis No. 5 and had them No. 6. Yale is ranked for the fifth time in six weeks. Yale moved three places in both the and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Polls this week.


The Bulldogs, ranked 7th in the latest Pairwise Rankings, have now won a school-record eight straight games with a record four consecutive ECAC sweeps. Yale's nine-game unbeaten streak is the second longest (active) one in the nation behind Boston University (10). The Elis own the third-best winning percentage (.780) in the country.


Four different Bulldogs scored goals as Yale beat RPI 4-1 before 4,780 at Houston Field House during the Big Red Freakout on Feb. 14. The Elis outshot the Engineers 30-16 while getting goals from Mark Arcobello, Patrick Brosnihan, Denny Kearney and Jeff Anderson. RPI never recovered from Yale's early goal and the Bulldogs pulled off the season sweep. Alec Richards needed just 15 saves to earn the win in goal, nearly half of those stops came on the Engineer man-advantage.


Alec Richards stopped 34 of 36 shots and three different teammates hit the net as Yale defeated Union 3-2 at Messa Rink on Feb. 13. The Elis had a season-low 15 SOG and went 0-for-3 with the man-advantage but still increased their stand atop the conference standings by a point. Richards stopped 10 shots in the first and last frames and had 14 in the second, while stopping the Dutchmen on seven of eight power-play chances. Patrick Brosnihan, Mike Matczak, Denny Kearney and Brian O'Neill scored goals for the Blue, which put five shots on Union's Corey Milan, who made just 11 saves. Broc Little set up two of the goals.


Yale outscored opponents 8-3 and got four of those tallies in the third period while outshooting the squads by a combined 45-42. The Blue went 0-for-7 on the PP but stopped 11 of 12 opponent chances. Six different Bulldogs scored goals.


Senior Alec Richards (Robbinsdale, Minn.) stopped 34 of 36 shots in 4-2 win at Union on Friday and then saved 15 of 16 in 4-1 win at RPI in front of a large Big Red Freakout crowd at Houston Field House. He halted 11 of 12 power-play chances while stopping 49 of 52 shots on the weekend. Richards was recently named a candidate for the 2009 NCAA Frozen Four Skills Competition that will take place on April 10 at Washington, D.C. Richards has a 1.00 GAA and a .964 SP over the last six games. He was named National Player of the Week as well as ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Week on Feb. 2 after stopping 63 of 64 shots in wins over Princeton and Quinnipiac. His 32-save effort was the difference in a 3-1 win over No. 9 Princeton on Jan. 30. He also had 29 saves in a 2-1 win at No. 15 Dartmouth. Richards (14-2, 2.10, .918) has 34 wins (2nd all-time at Yale) and owns career 2.76 GAA and .907 SP marks.


4 consecutive ECAC weekend sweeps (most ever)

4 straight sellouts at Ingalls Rink (3,500 capacity)

5 game-winning goals for junior Mark Arcobello (2nd in nation)

7 wins over ranked teams (most ever)

8 game win streak (most since an 18-game streak between 1928-29 and 1929-30)

8 wins against Ivy squads (most ever), which clinches outright 2008-09 title

9 game unbeaten streak

9 goals scored by Broc Little in ECAC games (2nd most for anyone in league)

14 conference wins (most since 1997-98 Elis had 17)

19 overall wins (most since 1997-98 team had 23)

50 career goals by Sean Backman


Junior D Tom Dignard (Reading, Mass.) suffered a season-ending injury in the Jan. 31 Quinnipiac game. Dignard (5-12-17), one of the ECAC's top all-around blueliners, owns the top (.81) points-per-game average among conference defensemen and is 14th in Division I.


Yale has killed off 45 of opponent's last 48 PP opportunities. Nebraska-Omaha (Dec. 29) was the last opponent to score more than one PPG against Yale.


The Blue has outshot all but three (Quinnipiac, Minnesota State, Union) opponents this year and averages 38 shots on target while giving up 26. The Bulldogs outshot Cornell/Colgate 82-36 on Jan. 23-24, while the largest one-game disparity was 35 (50-15 vs. Harvard). The Blue has won all three games when being outshot.


The Elis have now scored seven shorthanded goals this year while allowing three. Denny Kearney, who has 1-5-6 in shorthanded situatins, and Tom Dignard, who scored at Colgate, are the only Bulldogs other than Broc Little (school record 5) to tally on the PK.


Brian O'Neill (Yardley, Pa.) leads Yale rookies with 9-9-18, including a seven-game point streak. O'Neill's three goals at Dartmouth and Harvard got him ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week on Jan. 12. His two GWG are third on the team, and he is 22nd among Division I rookies (4th in ECAC) at .75 points per game.


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 (13-15-28), who had six goals over four games this year, is 21st in Division I with .52 GPG. Little, whose nine goals in conference play are second most in the league, was named ECAC Offensive Player of the Week after netting three goals and five points on Dec. 5 and 6 against RPI and Union.


Sean Backman (Cos Cob, Conn.), who leads the Blue with 14 goals, is one of 16 Division I players picked as semi-finalists for the Walter Brown Award, presented annually to the best American-born college hockey player in New England. Backman (14-11-25), who has five multiple-goal outings, is ranked 9th in Division I (1st in ECAC) with a .61 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 50 goals and 83 points in 84 career games but missed the two games last weekend with an injury.


Two other Bulldogs have plenty of experience in the Yale goal. Sophomore Ryan Rondeau (Carvel, Alb.) was in goal for wins over No. 17 Minnesota State (30 saves), No. 11 Air Force (29) and No. 3 Cornell (17). 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.


The Yale juniors lead the team with 32 goals, but the sophomores are close behind at 30. The newcomers have chipped in 18 while the small senior class, which provides much more than offense, has eight.

CAPTAIN NELSON Yale senior captain Matt Nelson (Westwood, Mass.) works as hard as any Bulldog on and off the ice. He is a relentless forechecker who can transform a turnover into a shot at the net as quick as anyone on the team. Nelson (in photo), who has a 3.25 GPA in economics and has a job lined up with Royal Bank of Scotland next year, banged home the game-winner on Feb. 7 against Dartmouth and has 2-3-5 this winter.


Junior F Mark Arcobello (12-13-25), the Bulldog with the closest (Milford, Conn.) hometown to New Haven, has five game-winners this year, the second most total in Division I. He currently has points in eight straight games.


Keith Allain '80, in his third year as the Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, is 4-4 against Princeton and 1-4 against Quinnipiac. Allain has increased his win total in each of his three seasons and has helped the Elis enjoy one of their best ever this winter after being picked seventh in both pre-season polls. Fifth-year Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky (6-6 vs. Yale) is in his 10th year as a collegiate head coach. Rand Pecknold (5-2 vs. Yale) is in his 15th year at Quinnipiac.


"It was an exciting place to play. One of the reasons you play college hockey is to experience that type of atmosphere," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, referring to RPI's Big Red Freakout Night. "The game was touch and go until the end. Tonight we played our style. What you saw tonight is what we try to do. I was really excited about the way we came out skating tonight."


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


Yale will have a very different look on Feb. 28 when Cornell comes to town. The Bulldogs, who normally wear white jerseys with blue numbers and letters, will don black and pink shirts and socks to help commemorate the Pink at the Rink Fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The Big Red dress in all red on the road but will have to sport their home white jerseys that night.


Here are the 14 former Bulldogs in the pro ranks this winter [Player (Team), Position, League]: Jean-Francois Boucher `08 (Ingolstadt ERC), F, Germany; Robert Page '08 (Trenton), D, ECHL; Blair Yaworski '08 (Syracuse), F, AHL; Bill LeClerc `07 (Mississippi), D, ECHL; Matt Cohen `07 (Trenton), D, ECHL; Brad Mills '07 (Lowell), F, AHL; Chris Brooks `06 (Augusta/Mississippi), D, ECHL; Joe Zappala `06 (Reading), F, ECHL; Chris Higgins '05 (Montreal), F, NHL; Joe Callahan `05 (Bridgeport), D, AHL; Stacey Bauman '03 (Oklahoma City), D, CHL; Jeff Hamilton '01 (Chicago), F, AHL; Ray Giroux `98 (St. Petersburg SKA), D, Russia; Alex Westlund '98 (Linz EHC), G, Austria.


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 257 NHL games under his belt. Higgins has 79 goals, 62 assists and 141 points, including 7-6-13 in 32 GP this season.


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 3,100 tickets have already been sold. The only appearance for Yale at an NCAA Regional was in 1998 at Ann Arbor, Mich., against Ohio State.


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.


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

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