Yale Travels to No. 2 Harvard and Dartmouth
Following a home-and-home split with Brown a weekend ago, the Bulldogs hit the road for another ECAC and Ivy League weekend with games at Boston and Hanover against teams they faced in the post-season last March. Yale takes on No. 2 Harvard on Friday (NESN) and Dartmouth on Saturday night. Both are 7:00 puck drops and air live on the Ivy League Network.
There have been 256 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 145-90-21, and posted a 3-0-1 record against the Elis last season. Against Dartmouth, Yale leads the series 113-92-14 and is 17-5-2 in the last 24 meetings.
Against the Crimson: In the 2017 ECAC quarterfinal matchup, the Elis pushed No. 2 Harvard, who finished one game away from the National Championship, to the brink despite falling to the Crimson in consecutive contests. The Bulldogs played some of their best hockey of the season and held one-goal lead in both games, but Harvard's high-powered offense proved to be just too much. Sam Tucker was arguably one of the best players in the series, denying a total of 59 shots in the two games.
Against the Big Green: Despite holding a decisive advantage against Dartmouth in recent years, the Bulldogs won just their second playoff series against the Big Green. In Game 1, Yale exploded for six goals and Sam Tucker stopped 24 of 25 shots en route to a 6-1 victory. Game 2 proved to be much tighter, but a game-tying goal from Mike Doherty at 13:28 of the third period sent the game to overtime, where Andrew Gaus won the series for Yale. Sam Tucker provided another stellar effort, stopping 44 shots from the Big Green.
In the first ever home-and-home series to open a season for Yale, the Elis earned a split with the Brown Bears. In the opening game of the series at Ingalls, Brown jumped out to a two-goal lead despite being outshot by the Bulldogs 14-7 in the first stanza. Freshman Phil Kemp cut the deficit to one just 46 seconds into period two when he blistered a slap shot past Brown goaltender Gavin Nieto, but that's all the offense the Elis could muster. Brown added two empty-net goals in the last minute of the third period and Nieto totaled 44 saves in the 4-1 victory.
The teams traveled to Providence for Game 2 of the series for what was a hard-fought affair. Freshman Brett Jewel notched his first career goal to give the Elis a lead in the first period, but Brown's Tyler Bird evened the score early in the second on the power play. After Yale and Brown traded punches in goals from Yale's Joe Snively and Brown's Brent Beaudoin, Mitchell Smith was able to break the 2-2 tie 6:17 into the third stanza when he popped a rebound over Nieto's pad. From there, Snively added a snipe off the rush and Evan Smith sent the puck the length of the ice for an empty-net goal to cement a 5-2 Yale win.
The Crimson have been picked by many as the ECAC favorite and a National Championship contender in 2017-18. In their first and only contest of the season, Harvard, who was ranked No. 3 in the most recent USCHO rankings, beat Dartmouth 5-0 at the Bright Hockey Center. Junior forward Ryan Donato, son of Harvard's head coach Ted Donato, is one of three Crimson players to be picked for the ECAC Hockey Preseason All-League Team (Adam Fox and Merrick Madsen), leads Harvard's offense. Donato tallied two goals in the opening game against the Big Green.
The Big Green is coming off of a disappointing 10-18-3 record and a ninth-place finish in the ECAC last season. Dartmouth is 0-2-0 after losing to both Holy Cross and Harvard last weekend. The Big Green only graduated four seniors last season, however, three of those departures finished in the top-six in team scoring. Key returners for 2017-18 include senior goaltender Devin Buffalo, senior forward Corey Kalk, and sophomore forward Will Graber.
Next weekend the Bulldogs will host their first full home weekend of the season as ECAC foes St. Lawrence and No. 13 Clarkson come to Ingalls.
Entering year three, Joe Snively, who was one of five players selected to the preseason Coaches All-ECAC Team, has notched 67 career points in just 65 games played. In the Bulldog's exhibition game against Western Ontario, the junior picked up where he left off, recording 2 goals and 4 assists in the 6-4 victory. His 1.18 points per game in 2016-17 were good for 21st best 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. In last weekend's split with Brown, Snively was a catalyst in Saturday's road victory. The junior notched two goals in the 5-2 win for the Bulldogs.
Junior goalie Sam Tucker (Wilton, Conn.) is one of the key incumbents this season for the Bulldogs. A season ago, Tucker made his collegiate hockey debut on Nov. 12 in a relief appearance against Cornell, and eventually won his first collegiate game against UConn on Jan. 7. Tucker seized the starting goalie job as the Elis headed into ECAC playoffs, where he stopped 68 of 71 shots in first round playoff action against Dartmouth. He was a key reason why the bulldogs were able to sweep the Big Green. Tucker got off to a good start in opening weekend action, posting a .911 save percentage and a 2.01 goals against average.
Senior forward Ryan Hitchcock was voted captain by his teammates for the 2017-18 season. The Manhasset, N.Y., native has notched 14 goals and 34 assists over the span of his first 3 campaigns, despite being limited by injury in each of 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 January 14th 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.
Yale's blue line will likely be one its major improvements from last season. Last year's Bulldog D-core featured a bevy of youth. Newcomers Matt Foley, Chandler Lindstrand, and Billy Sweezey played heavy minute as a result, and Henry Hart was transitioned to defense after playing his first two seasons at forward. This year Yale returns virtually its full group of defensemen, each with plenty of in-game experience. Adam Larkin, Charlie Curti, and Anthony Walsh will lead the group, which will be supplemented by freshmen Phil Kemp and Brian Matthews.
Seven freshmen joined the team this year (4 F, 2 D, 1G). Two hail from Canada and played junior hockey in the British Columbia Hockey League, while the other five come from around the US and competed in the United States Hockey League last season.
The Elis are 3-0-2 and 4-0-1 in their last five regular-season games at Boston and Hanover, respectively…Entering the weekend, there are three ECAC teams ranked within the nation's top-20 including Harvard (2), Clarkson (13), and Quinnipiac (11)…As of the current rankings, Yale will play 11 games against ranked opponents this season.
The Bulldogs have four seniors, including two forwards, and two defensemen. There are seven juniors, nine sophomores, and seven newcomers.
DID YOU KNOW
Yale defenseman Adam Larkin's family has hockey in its blood. Larkin's cousin Dylan skates for the Detroit Redwings, 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… Defenseman Henry Hart, who has been playing forward since his youth hockey days until this season, has worked with the Herb Brooks Foundation while also having an internship on Mike McFadden's 2014 U.S. Senate campaign. His sister, Annie, was a five-time All-America skier at Dartmouth and is now a pro with SMS T2 ski team.... 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.
The superlatives survey among the Bulldogs produced the following leaders.
Strongest pound-for-pound: Anthony Walsh
Fastest on skates: Ted Hart
Hardest Shot: Dante Palecco
Best Fore-checker: Luke Stevens
Best Passer: Ryan Hitchcock
Best Hands: Joe Snively
Most unique hobby: JM Piotrowski (Skateboarding)
Best Sense of humor: John Baiocco
Biggest appetite: Charlie Curti
Best Dresser: JM Piotrowski
Most soft spoken: Phil Kemp
Most Talkative: Dante Palecco
Most likely to become a head hockey coach: Adam Larkin
ELIS WITH TEAM USA
Four former Yale All-American forwards currently playing professionally in Europe have been selected to the U.S. National Team for next month's Deutschland Cup. Mark Arcobello '10, Sean Backman '10, Broc Little '11 and Brian O'Neill '12, all of whom skated together for Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach, will be with their college coach in Germany for the competition that helps determine who will be on the U.S. Olympic Team roster for February's Winter Games in South Korea. The U.S. squad will begin practicing at Curt-Frenzel Stadium on Nov. 8, while the Cup competition runs from the 10th to the 12th.
Arcobello, who has played for the U.S. at the World Championships, is one of 21 players on the current U.S. team who has played in the NHL. He is currently with Bern SC of Switzerland. O'Neill, the former AHL Player of the Year who went on to skate in the NHL, has been skating with Jokerit Helsinki (Finland) in the KHL Backman had seven seasons in the AHL before joining the Eisbaren Berlin in Germany. Little has spent most of his pro career in Sweden, but he also skated in the AHL and in Switzerland. He is now with HC Davis in the Swiss league.
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 have been skating on the same team since they began organized hockey and have been linemates since they were eight-years old. 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 is listed as an inch taller and five pounds heavier than Mitchell. The Benjamin Franklin College members have a follicle flow going this winter and were part of a January ncaa.com video feature on hockey hair last season.
The Yale roster includes players from 12 different states and two provinces. There are five players from Massachusetts, while Minnesota and Ontario each have three. British Columbia, Connecticut, Michigan, New York and New Jersey each have a pair. All-time Yale hockey rosters have included players from 30 different states. There are 22 Americans and five Canadians.... This winter the Bulldogs average 6-feet in height and 186 pounds. The United States Hockey League contributed 15 players to the Bulldog roster, the most by any league. Here is a breakdown of the 2016-17 roster: USHL – 18… Prep/High School – 4…BCHL – 2…USNDT – 2… NAHL – 1
Yale has been to the national tournament seven times, including six under current head coach Keith Allain. Over the last six seasons, which included Yale's 2013 national title, the only ECAC Hockey school with more NCAA appearances than the Elis (3) is Quinnipiac (4). There are only nine (BC, Denver, North Dakota, Notre Dame, Minnesota, UML, Providence St. Cloud State, Quinnipiac) schools in the country with 4 or 5 in that span.
The Current team includes 23 players who captained their team prior to Yale, eight who captained other sports, 13 who were scholar-athlete award winners, 10 who graduated in the top 10 percent of their class, six National Honor Society members, and six class presidents.
David S. Ingalls Rink, named after the World War I U.S. Navy Flying Ace, opened in 1958, was dedicated in 1959 and had major renovations in 2010. It's the eighth oldest active college hockey venue and the fifth oldest in ECAC Hockey.
BULLDOGS IN THE PROS
Nineteen former Bulldogs have played professionally this season.
Jean-Francois Boucher '08 – Kolner Haie , DEL – Germany
Mark Arcobello '10 - Bern SC, NLA – Switzerland
Sean Backman '10 – Eisbaren Berlin, DEL – Germany
Broc Little '11 – HC Davis, NLA – Switzerland
Denny Kearney '11 – Milton Keynes Lighting, EIHL – United Kingdom
Brian O'Neill '12 - Jokerit Helsinki, KHL – Finland
Andrew Miller '13 - Charlotte Checkers, AHL
Antoine Laganiere '13 - San Diego Gulls, AHL
Kenny Agostino '14 – Boston Bruins, NHL/Providence Bruins, AHL
Gus Young '14 – Florida Everblades, ECHL
Ryan Obuchowski '16 – Toledo Walleye, ECHL
Matthew Beattie '16 – Melbourne Mustangs, AIHL – Australia
Rob O'Gara '16 – Boston Bruins, NHL/Providence, AHL
Alex Lyon '17 - Philadelphia Flyers, NHL/Lehigh Valley, AHL
John Hayden '17 – Chicago Blackhawks, NHL
Mike Doherty '17 – Manchester Monarchs, ECHL
Frank DiChiara '17 – Worcester Railers, ECHL
Chris Izmirlian '17 – Knoxville Ice Bears, SPHL
Patrick Spano '17 – Knoxville Ice Bears, SPHL