Bulldogs Debut at Ledyard Classic
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale men's hockey team takes a two-game win streak into a holiday tournament in a familiar location. The Bulldogs are making their first appearance in the Ledyard Bank Classic hosted by Dartmouth. The Elis play Minnesota-Duluth at 4 p.m. on Dec. 29 at Thompson Arena before taking on New Hampshire the following day at the same time. Both LBC games air live on the Ivy League Network.
Formerly known as the Auld Lang Syne Classic, the Ledyard Bank Classic began in 1978 and has always been played at Thompson Arena in late December. The host, Dartmouth, skates against UNH on Friday and UMD on Saturday. Both game times are 7 p.m.
Yale won the first meeting with Minnesota-Duluth (5-4, 1975) before losing the last six straight. There were three encounters in the 1970s and four between 2001 and 2011.
The last time Yale played UMD was the 2011 East Regional Final at Bridgeport. The Elis were the No. 1 overall tournament seed and were coming off a late-night OT win over Air Force in front of a sold-out crowd. Duluth, which beat Union in the afternoon semifinal at Webster Bank Arena, upset Yale the next day 5-3.
Yale's last game was Dec. 9, a 2-1 win at Sacred Heart. Joe Snively had both goals, Ryan Hitchcock picked up helpers on both tallies while Sam Tucker (18 saves) was outstanding in net.
THE OTHER BULLDOGS
UMD has wins over Minnesota, Maine, Western Michigan and Omaha among its eight victories. They are coming off a road split with Omaha on Dec. 8-9.
New Hampshire (9-7-1, 4-5-1 Hockey East) last played in early December, dropping close games to Army and Merrimack. The Wildcats have victories over Yale, Colgate (2) and Colorado College.
UP NEXT FOR THE BLUE
After five straight games away from the Whale, Yale is back home to host UMass on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. in a game that airs live on the ILN.
HART OF A BULLDOG
Junior forward Ted Hart became the second Bulldog this season to score 4 goals in a weekend ECAC set with Yale's only tally at RPI and then 3 of the team's 5 goals at Union in December. Hart, who has five points in his last three games, is now second on the squad with four goals.
Yale went four seasons without a hat trick and now has two in 2017-18. Rookie forward Dante Palecco had his first three career goals on Nov. 10 at home against St. Lawrence. Junior forward Ted Hart notched his first three-goal college game on the road against Union on Dec. 2. Both Bulldogs were skating those nights on a line with Ryan Hitchcock and Joe Snively and the Elis won both contests.
KEMP WITH U.S. NATIONAL TEAM
First-year defenseman Phil Kemp (7 gp, 1-2-3) was named to the roster of the U.S. National Junior Team's pre-tournament camp, which runs Dec. 15-19 as the selection process for the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. The 42nd world championship takes place in Buffalo at the Key Bank Center and Harbor Center, Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.
Senior forward Ryan Hitchcock was voted captain by his teammates for the 2017-18 season. The Manhasset, N.Y., native has notched 16 goals and 57 points in his 84-game college career, which has been shortened by injuries 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 Jan. 14 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.
Junior forward Joe Snively (Herndon, Va.), who leads the team with 7 goals and 12 points, was one of five players selected to the Pre-season Coaches All-ECAC Hockey Team after netting 1.18 points per game in 2016-17, which ranked 21st 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. Snively (79 pts, 77 career games) has already registered three multi-goal games and four multi-point outings this season.
Junior goalie Sam Tucker (Wilton, Conn.) has all but one of the games in net this season. Tucker made his collegiate debut on Nov. 12, 2016, in a relief appearance against Cornell, and eventually won his first collegiate game against UConn on Jan. 7, 2017. 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. Tucker has been solid this season, recording a 2.74 goals against average and a .904 save percentage in his first 11 games. His Nov. 18 effort at Quinnipiac was one of the best of Tucker's career with 40 saves.
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, Palecco netted his first collegiate goal and added two more in scoring the first Yale hat trick since 2012. Palecco chipped in Yale's only goal in a 4-1 loss to No. 8 Clarkson. For his efforts, the Whippany, N.J. native was awarded both the ECAC Hockey Offensive Player and Rookie of the Week.
The blue line is one of Yale's major improvements from last season. Last winter, rookies Matt Foley, Chandler Lindstrand and Billy Sweezey were baptized under fire while Henry Hart '18 was transitioned to defense after playing his first two seasons at forward. The Elis now have a seasoned group. Adam Larkin, Charlie Curti, and Anthony Walsh are veterans who are helping freshmen Phil Kemp and Brian Matthews with the transition.
Seven freshmen joined the team this year (4 F, 2 D, 1G). Two are from Canada and played junior hockey in the British Columbia Hockey League, while the other five come from around the U.S. and competed in the United States Hockey League last season. Yale's freshmen have accounted for 9 goals and 14 points this season. Forwards Dante Palecco (player, rookie of week) and Kevin O'Neil (rookie) have earned ECAC Hockey honors this season.
Yale is very balanced in scoring this season with 10 in the first period, 9 in the second and 11 in the final frame… The Bulldogs currently rank fifth in the ECAC in goals per game (2.90)… Joe Snively is 8th in the ECAC in points and goals… His 2 shorthanded tallies are tied for first in the conference… Dante Palecco is 5th among ECAC Rookies in points.
The Bulldogs have four seniors, including two forwards, and two defensemen. There are seven juniors, nine sophomores, and seven newcomers.
Yale head coach Keith Allain, an assistant for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, traveled to Augsburg, Germany, in November 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. The XXIII Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang, South Korea, begin on Feb. 9.
YALE HOSTING REGIONAL
Yale and Fairfield will co-host the 2018 Division I Men's Ice Hockey Regional at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport on March 23-24. The two schools also brought the regional to the state of Connecticut in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014. The other sites for the 2018 tournament include the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. (Host: Penn State), the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. (Host: Holy Cross), and PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. (Host: North Dakota). The 2018 Frozen Four will take place at the Xcel Center in Saint Paul, Minn. (Host: Minnesota).
by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD/Sports Publicity Director - email@example.com