SLU, No. 11 Clarkson Come To Whale
After an ECAC split with No. 5 Harvard and Dartmouth on the road last weekend, the Elis host two excellent squads from the North Country.
Since the first meeting in 1951-52, SLU holds a 59-34-11 advantage over the Elis, but Yale is 2-1-1 over the last two seasons. In a series that dates to 1929-30, Yale leads the Golden Knights 72-37-7. A year ago, the Elis went 1-0-2 against Clarkson.
Against the Saints: In the first of two meetings during the 2016-17 season, SLU was able power past the Bulldogs, striking early an often. The Saints poured in five unanswered goals throughout the first 45 minutes of the contest which, despite 2 Yale goals from Adam Larkin and John Hayden in the third stanza, proved to be too much for the Bulldogs to overcome as SLU won 5-2. Game two was a much tighter affair. Backed by Patrick Spano's 39 saves, the Elis earned a point in the 2-2 tie. Ryan Hitchcock struck first roughly eight minutes into the first period and Frankie DiChiara banged one off the pipe and in to give Yale a two-goal lead, but that wouldn't be enough. The Saints evened the score on the power play with just over five minutes to play in the third and SLU goaltender Kyle Hayton stymied a flurry of Yale shots to preserve the tie in the OT session.
Against the Golden Knights: In the first game of three between the teams, Yale rallied in the third period to earn a point on the road. The Golden Knights and Bulldogs traded goals in the first period, but Clarkson captured a two-goal lead with a pair of power-play goals in the second. Consecutive goals from Ted Hart and captain John Hayden evened the score for the visiting squad before time expired. Game two came just six days later at the Shillelagh Tournament in South Bend, Ind. Yale took a one-goal lead on a Joe Snively one-timer with just over a minute remaining in the second period, but a Clarkson goal on a redirection late in the third spoiled a solid effort from the Bulldogs. The final matchup of the season finally produced a winner. In a 1-1 tie with under a minute to play in the final stanza, captain John Hayden deposited a pass from Ryan Hitchcock into the top shelf. Hayden's goal marked the first Yale game-winning goal with less than a minute to play since 2012.
Last weekend's split with Harvard and Dartmouth included both highs and lows. On Friday, the Elis out battled a No. 3 ranked Harvard squad, spoiling the Crimson's home portion of the season series with a 5-2 victory. Mitchell Smith started the scoring after picking off a pass from Harvard's Ryan Donato and snapping the puck just inside the post. Robbie DeMontis added another goal just seconds later and Yale headed into the break with a two-goal advantage. Despite the Crimson evening the score early in the second period, the Bulldogs notched 3 unanswered goals including a Kevin O'Neil breakaway snipe that iced Harvard. Yale was unable to complete a weekend sweep against Dartmouth. The first period had a flurry of Yale penalties including multiple 5-3 power plays for Dartmouth – one of which ended with a goal. Joe Snively evened the score on a shorthanded breakaway, but that's all the offense Yale would muster. Dartmouth scored once in both the second and third periods and the Big Green's goaltender Devin Buffalo stopped 26 of 27 shots on the night en route to a 3-1 Dartmouth victory.
The Saints are 1-8-1 but they have played a very competitive schedule. SLU's one win came against No. 7 Wisconsin and of their eight losses, five were against ranked opponents including the Badgers, No. 19 Penn State, No. 2 North Dakota, and No. 8 Providence. In ECAC play, the Saints are coming off an 0-1-1 weekend against Union and RPI. One key loss for SLU from a season ago is goaltender Kyle Hayton. who graduated in just three years and then moved on to Wisconsin as a graduate transfer. The Saints defeated the talented netminder early this season in their win at Madison.
Similar to SLU, No. 11 Clarkson's early non-conference schedule has featured a bevy of stingy opponents. Now 6-3-1, Clarkson has quality wins over No. 19 Penn State, No. 18 Western Michigan, and No. 8 Providence. Two of their three losses came at the hands of No. 4 Minnesota on the road. In conference the Golden Knights are 2-0 after a weekend sweep of RPI and Union. The Golden Knights are led by sophomore forward Sheldon Rempal, whose 13 points are good for 6th best in the nation.
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. 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. So far this season, Snively has picked up where he left off. The speedy left winger is posting 1.25 points per game and has three goals and two assists in the Bulldogs first two weekends.
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 fi rst 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 has been solid so far this season, recording a .227 goals against average and a .905 save percentage in his first four games. Last Friday against No. 4 Harvard Tucker made 33 saves in a winning effort.
CAPTAIN HITCHCOCK 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. In four games this year, Hitchcock has chipped in three points including an important power play snipe to extend the Eli's lead against Harvard to two last Friday.
D-CORE 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 2-2-1 and 2-0-3 against St. Lawrence and Clarkson in their last five games, respectively. Entering the weekend, there are three ECAC teams ranked within the nation's top-20 including Harvard (4), Clarkson (11), and Quinnipiac (16) 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
The Best Singer: Anthony Walsh and Will D'Orsi
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