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Bulldogs Preparing for Holiday Road Trip

Bulldogs Preparing for Holiday Road Trip

Dec. 11, 2007

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Yale men's hockey team (4-3-3, 3-2-3 ECAC) comes off its 20-day layoff to face a pair of non-league opponents on the longest road trip of the 2007-08 season. The Bulldogs take on Nebraska-Omaha on Dec. 28 at 8 p.m. EST before facing Minnesota State-Mankato on the 30th at 6 p.m. EST. MSU, from the WCHA, and UNO, from the CCHA, both nicknamed the Mavericks, have been Yale's holiday opponents the last two years.

The Series

Yale is 0-2-1 against UNO since the first meeting, a 5-2 Maverick win at the 2003 Denver Cup. UNO, 1-0 at home, has outscored the Bulldogs 12-8 in the three games. MSU is 1-0-1 against Yale with a 0-0-1 mark at Mankato from the first meeting in 2005. The Mavericks have outscored the Blue 5-3 overall.

Last Meeting

The Elis jumped out to a 4-0 lead through 43 minutes before UNO came roaring back to even the score a year ago at New Haven. Both squads had 32 shots on goal and a pair of PPG. Jean-Francois Boucher, Will Engasser, Bill LeClerc and Shawn Mole had the Yale goals. Minnesota State beat Yale at Ingalls Rink 3-1 last December. Both teams went 0-for-6 on the power play, Chris Cahill notched the Bulldog goal and Alec Richards made 31 saves.

Horses Warming in the Barn

UNO, which is 5-7-3 overall, plays a pair at Union this weekend and then hosts Minnesota State before the Bulldogs come to town on the 28th. The Mavs, 4-7-3 in conference play, swept Ohio State on the road earlier this year. MSU, coming off a win and a tie with Wisconsin, is 5-6-3 (3-6-3) with four games to play before Yale comes to town.

Behind the Bench

Keith Allain '80, in his second year as the Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, is 0-1 against UNO and MSU but is not with the team on this trip. Associate head coach C.J. Marottolo is in the middle of a four-game assignment as head coach while Allain helps lead the 2008 U.S. Junior National Team at the world championships.

Bulldogs Bite Bears

The Yale power play had not been very effective in the first nine games but tallied both goals on Dec. 8 in a 2-1 ECAC win over Brown at Ingalls Rink. Sean Backman's goal with 56 seconds left was the game-winner as the Elis won their final game before heading into a 20-day break for the exams and the holidays. Mark Arcobello had the other Yale goal and Billy Blase made 21 saves to earn the win in net. The game-winner came on a 5-on-3 advantage. Yale's special teams had tallied three goals on 36 attempts (.083) heading into the game. The Blue went 2-for-4 with the extra man while outshooting the Bears 40-22 to grab two important points in the conference standings.

Rankings

Yale, which received one vote for the USCHO.com/CSTV top 20 national poll, is 0-1-2 vs. ranked teams and has been outscored 6-5 in those three games (1-1 at RPI, 1-0 loss at Clarkson, 3-3 vs. Harvard). The Elis did not receive votes in the other major poll.

Bones For Two Bulldogs

Keith Allain, who has had 11 different coaching assignments for U.S. Hockey including two Olympic teams, will serve as assistant coach for Team USA at the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Pardubice and Liberec, Czech Republic, Dec. 26 - Jan. 5. Former Boston University player John Hynes, now head coach of the NTDP U-18 squad, will be head coach for the U.S. at the world tournament. Allain has coached teams at four different world championships including the lead role for the 2001 and 2002 world junior teams. Associate head coach C.J. Marottolo will serve as Yale head coach for the Minnesota State-Mankato, Nebraska, Connecticut and Brown games.

Captain Cardio

Yale senior captain Will Engasser (1-4-5), who is a history of science and medicine major, interned at Atritech, a Minnesota company that manufactures heart devices for atrial fibrillation patients. Engasser, a former Minnesota High School football star, had looks from gridiron recruiters at Notre Dame and Stanford. The 6-foot-2, 239-pound hockey forward, who is tied for the team lead with four assists, was a TE, LB, P and PK in football.

Drafting Blue

Five current Bulldogs have been drafted by National Hockey League teams, including two by the Phoenix Coyotes. The Yale draftees include F Patrick Brosnihan (Phoenix), F Greg Beller (NY Rangers), D Brendan Turner (Chicago), D Robert Page and F Will Engasser (Phoenix). All five were selected prior to enrolling at Yale. The Montreal Canadiens (6) have drafted more Elis (or future ones) than any other NHL team.

Five Rings Connected

Yale hockey players and staff have a few connections to the Olympics: Freshman forward Denny Kearney's sister, Hannah (Hanover, N.H.), is a mogul skiing star who competed at the 2006 Olympics and was the 2005 world champion; Senior forward Jean-Francois Boucher's father, Gaetan, won a silver in speed skating at the 1980 Games before taking a gold and a bronze in 1984; Keith Allain has coached in two (1992, 2006) Olympics while Ed Maturo, director of equipment services, has also worked a pair (1994, 2006).

Blase Burning

Yale sophomore goalie Billy Blase ranks seventh nationally in goals against average (1.67) and save percentage (.937). He was named ECAC Goalie of the Week on Nov. 18 after making 58 saves during a pair of games in the Northh Country. Blase earned his first collegiate victory and shutout with 18 saves in a 2-0 win over Brown on Oct. 27.

Backman Back

After sitting out the first two games of the season due to injury, sophomore forward Sean Backman (4-4-8), last year's co-ECAC Rookie of the Year, has scored four times in eight outings. He assisted each goal in a 3-3 tie with No. 15 Harvard on Nov. 28 and then notched his first GWG of the year against Brown on Dec. 8. The Cos Cob, Conn., native, has 22 goals in 37 career games. His father, Mike Backman, played in the NHL from 1981-84 (18, 1-6-7) with the Rangers and also skated with the AHL New Haven Nighthawks (57 goals).

Big League Bulldogs

Jeff Hamilton '01, Yale's career scoring leader, has 5-10-15 in 28 GP for the Carolina Hurricanes this season. Hamilton spent the 2006-07 campaign with the Blackhawks (18-21-39)... Chris Higgins '05 has 12-8-20 in 29 games with Montreal after having 22-16-38 last year.

Bulldog Bites

Yale is 1-1-1 against Ivy squads... Eleven different Bulldogs have hit the net this season... The Yale sophomores lead the team with 13 of the 23 goals this season after leading the Blue in scoring as frosh... T The Elis have stopped 34 of 36 power-play chances; Union and Harvard scored the only PPGs against Yale this season... Yale's 36 shots taken against Harvard are a season-high... The Bulldogs, who scored three times in the third period against Harvard, have been outscored in the first and second periods but have a 10-6 advantage in the final frames.

Catching the Elis

All home games can be seen live by clicking on the Yale All Access link at the top of the front page of Yalebulldogs.com. Most home and many road contests this season can be heard live on WYBC AM 1340 or on wybc.com. Listen in to hear commentary from primary broadcasters Alex Goldberger `08, Alex Jenson `09, Michael Dunn `10.