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Yale Hosts Minutemen Friday at Whale

Ryan Hitchcock and the Elis are home Friday night (Gil Talbot image)
Ryan Hitchcock and the Elis are home Friday night (Gil Talbot image)



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The Yale men's hockey team, coming off a win over New Hampshire last weekend at a holiday tournament, renews a rivalry with a bordering state school Friday night at the Whale. The Minutemen of UMass from Hockey East come down I-91 to square off with the Elis for the 23rd time. The 7 p.m. game airs live on Eleven Sports and the Ivy League Network.

Here's how you can watch the game on TV. If these are not available for you, the game also airs on the ILN... DirecTV‎: ‎623 (HD), Verizon FiOS‎: ‎597 (HD), AT&T U-verse‎: ‎1665

The Elis have won 15 of the 22 games with UMass including the last three. Yale is 12-4 at home in the series. The last meeting at the Whale was a 4-2 Bulldog win during the national championship season of 2012-13.

John Hayden scored with 1:47 left in overtime to give the No. 12 Yale hockey team a 3-2 win over UMass at the Mullins Center on Jan. 5, 2016. The Bulldogs saw their two-goal lead disappear before Hayden's second goal of the night gave his team a second straight victory. The Elis had a power-play opportunity early in OT and nearly ended it when defenseman Rob O'Gara fired a shot off the crossbar. The senior was coming to the bench after the advantage and got his stick on the puck along the boards. Freshman Joe Snively quickly took it from there and sent it to the middle of the ice for Hayden.

Yale is coming off a loss and a win at the 2017 Ledyard Bank Classic last week at Hanover, N.H. The Bulldogs fell to No. 17 Minnesota-Duluth last Friday before beating New Hampshire 4-2 on Saturday. The Elis scored 48 seconds apart to break open a 1-1 tie midway through the third period on the way to the two-goal margin over UNH. Rookie forward Dante Palecco had a pair of goals and sophomore Corbin Kaczperski made 31 saves to earn the victory in his second collegiate contest.

UMass is 9-7 overall and coming off a 2-1 win at Union last month. The guys from Amherst have two wins over the Dutchmen and a sweep of Quinnipiac already this season. Youth has served UMass well this season. Rookies lead the team in scoring and the goaltending has been shared primarily between a freshman and a sophomore. Forwards Oliver Chau (7-8-15) and Mitchell Chaffee (6-7-13) are the top point producers, while sophomore Ryan Wischow (2.64, .917) and newcomer Matt Murray (3.41, .885) have most of the time in net.

Red, White & BLUE
Former Yale All-American forwards Mark Arcobello '10, Broc Little '11 and Brian O'Neill '12 will be wearing red, white and Blue for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team. All three play professionally in Europe and skated for Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach, who is an assistant on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team. Team USA has 15 overall on the roster who currently play professionally in Europe, three who compete in the AHL and four collegians. The squad will represent the United States at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Feb. 9-25 in PyeongChang, South Korea. The opening game for the U.S. men in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games is Feb. 14 against Slovenia. O'Neill, Sean Backman '10 (who skated for U.S. at a pre-Olympic Tournament, Allain, Little and Arcobello posed for the above photo in November.

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 58 points in his 86-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 13 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 (80 pts, 79 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 two 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.

Sophomore Corbin Kaczperski (China Township, Mich.) has two career collegiate starts in net, and both came this season. His last was a 31-save effort in a 4-2 win over New Hampshire on Dec. 30.

Freshman forward Dante Palecco, who notched two goals in a Dec. 30 win over New Hampshire, had one of the best weekends for a rookie 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 11 goals and 15 points this season. Forwards Dante Palecco (player, rookie of week) and Kevin O'Neil (rookie) have earned ECAC Hockey honors this season. First-year defenseman Phil Kemp (9 gp, 1-2-3) was named to the roster of the U.S. National Junior Team's pre-IIHF tournament camp.
Yale is in the middle of the conference pack in scoring and goals allowed overall this season… Yale's 13.1 penalty minutes average is 2nd in the ECAC… The Blue has 10 goals in the first period, 10 in the second and 15 in the final frame… Joe Snively is 13th in the ECAC with .50 goals per game overall… His 2 shorthanded tallies are tied for first in the conference… Dante Palecco is 8th among ECAC Rookies in points with .62 per game overall.

The Elis stay in town to host a pair of nationally ranked teams from upstate New York, No. 5 Cornell and No. 17 Colgate.

The Bulldogs have four seniors, including two forwards, and two defensemen. There are seven juniors, nine sophomores, and seven newcomers.
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.

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).

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… 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

Twenty seasons ago, Tim Taylor led the Bulldogs (23-9-3, 17-4-1 ECAC, 7-2-1 Ivy) to their first ECAC Championship by winning the regular season and getting an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Captain Ray Giroux and the Elis had a 7-game win streak that propelled them to the top of the conference standings. The 20th anniversary of this great Yale team will be celebrated on alumni weekend, Feb. 23-24, at Ingalls Rink.

Nineteen former Bulldogs are playing 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