Elis Take on No. 13 New Hampshire at the Whale
The last time the Bulldogs and Wildcats met was 11 years ago at Durham when the visitors had a new head coach. Saturday Yale hosts No.13 New Hampshire in an important 7 p.m. contest for both schools that airs live on the Ivy League Network.
In a series that began in 1928 with an 11-2 Yale victory, New Hampshire holds the advantage at 17-12. The Elis are 8-6 at home against the Wildcats, but just 4-11 on the road.
The last matchup between the Bulldogs and the Wildcats dates to Oct. 28, 2006. Yale skated to a 4-3 overtime win at Durham in what was Keith Allain's second game as head coach for the Bulldogs.
Last Friday Yale played a tightly contested game on the road against Princeton, but was unable to prevail in large part due to the Tigers' success on the power play. The home team had a 5-2 lead before the Blue fought back. Goals from Anthony Walsh and Ryan Hitchcock in the final 10 minutes weren't enough as the Tigers held on for the 5-4 victory. On Saturday, the Bulldogs could not solve Quinnipiac goalie Andrew Shortridge and the Bobcats skated to a 3-0 win. Goaltender Sam Tucker was a bright spot for Yale. The junior denied 40 shots and a penalty shot with many quality plays.
No. 13 New Hampshire (6-3-1, 3-3-1 Hockey East) enters the weekend on a three-game losing streak. Following a 5-0 start, the Wildcats have won just one game in their past six, yet their recent three-game skid includes losses to perennial powers No.14 Boston College, No. 19 Boston University, and No. 19 UMass Lowell. The Wildcats have received balanced scoring throughout their lineup, highlighted by freshman defensemen Max Gildon and Benton Maass. Gildon leads New Hampshire in goals (6), and Maass leads the Wildcats in assists (9). On the defensive end, the Wildcats rank eighth in the NCAA with a 2.27 GAA.
Next weekend the Bulldogs travel to Rensselaer and Union for a slate of ECAC contests.
Freshman forward Dante Palecco had one of the best weekends for a Bulldog forward in recent memory against St. Lawrence and Clarkson on Nov. 10-11. In a 6-1 win over St. Lawrence on Friday, Palleco netted his first collegiate goal and added two more in scoring the first Yale hat trick since 2012. On Saturday Palecco chipped in Yale's only goal in a 4-1 loss to No. 8 Clarkson. For his efforts, the Whippnay, N.J. native was awarded both the ECAC Hockey Offensive Player and Rookie of the Week.
Yale head coach Keith Allain, an assistant for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, traveled to Augsburg, Germany, two weeks ago for the Deutschland Cup. He watched a roster of prospective Olympic players compete against Slovakia, Russia, and Germany. Several Yale alumni made a strong case to make the final Olympic roster. Broc Little '11, Mark Arcobello '10 and Brian O'Neill '12 were reunited on a line together, while Sean Backman '10 also skated for the Americans. Arcobello posted a goal and an assist in three games, while Little netted a goal.
Entering year three, Joe Snively, was one of five players selected to the Preseason Coaches All-ECAC Team. 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 1.00 points per game good for eighth in the ECAC. Snively has already registered two multi-goal games and three multi-point games this season.
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 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 .277 goals against average and a .902 save percentage in his first eight games. Last weekend's effort against Quinnipiac was one of the best of Tucker's career. The junior stopped 40 shots including a plethora of quality chances in the Bulldogs 3-0 defeat.
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 8 games this year, Hitchcock has chipped in seven points including two goals and five assists.
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. So far, Yale's freshmen have accounted for just over 36 percent of all Bulldog goals this season.
The Bulldogs currently rank fifthh in the ECAC in goals per game (2.88). Entering the weekend, there are three ECAC teams ranked within the nation's top-20 including Clarkson (5), Cornell (7), and Colgate (18). As of the current rankings, Yale will play 10 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
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