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Quinnipiac, Princeton Come to Whale

Friday's Game Airs Live on WCTX/My9 TV (Steve Musco image)
Friday's Game Airs Live on WCTX/My9 TV (Steve Musco image)

Bulldogs Chasing Bobcats, Tigers


The Yale men's hockey team trails 8th place Quinnipiac by a point, while Princeton is two points away in the 6th. Both of those ECAC Hockey squads are in New Haven this weekend as the conference teams jockey for playoff positions. The Bulldogs and Bobcats square off Friday in a game airing live on WCTX/My9 and the Ivy League Network. Saturday's Yale-Princeton contest is an Ivy Network broadcast. Both puck drops are 7 p.m. with limited ticket availability.

Quinnipiac has a 17-6-5 record against the Elis since the first meeting in 2006. Yale's first meeting with the Tigers dates to 1900, and the Bulldogs have a 142-105-10 record against Princeton.

Yale goalie Sam Tucker stopped 40 of 43 shots at Hamden but Quinnipiac took a 3-0 contest in November. QU's Andrew Shortridge stopped all 30 shots to earn the win in goal. The night before, Will D'Orsi, Evan Smith, Ryan Hitchcock and Anthony Walsh scored goals in a 5-4 loss at Princeton. The home team's Max Veronneau had nine shots on net for the Tigers and two of them went in, while Tucker made 26 saves at Baker Rink.

Yale, which swept Arizona State at home last weekend in a pair of OT games, put 102 shots combined on Sun Devils goalie Joey Daccord. Seven different Bulldogs slipped shots past him. Joe Snively (12-10-22) hit the net 2:28 into the extra frame on Friday to make the Blue and goalie Sam Tucker (2.87, .899, 6-9-1) a 3-2 winner. Evan Smith (6-6-12) had the OT honors at 2:55 on Saturday in a 4-3 decision that included 24 saves by Corbin Kaczperski (1.86, .933, 5-2-0). The Elis blanked ASU on eight power plays, but the games had different twists. The Devils never trailed in game one until the winner; Yale did not get behind on Saturday.

QU (11-13-4, 6-8-2 ECAC) has won 3 of its last 4, including a sweep of No. 2 Clarkson and St. Lawrence at home last weekend. Sophomore forward Alex Whelan leads the team with 13 goals while rookie Odeen Tufto has a team-best 31 points. Sophomore Andrew Shortridge (2.40, .905, 9-10-2) and newcomer Keith Petruzzelli (3.05, .895, 2-3-2) split the last two games though neither was very busy against the North Country teams. The Bobcats are a +216 in shots this season, so they can help reduce the rubber assortment on their netminders.

Princeton (10-10-3, 7-8-1), ranked 8th in the nation with 3.3 goals per game, brings a 4-game win streak into Providence Friday night for its game with Brown. It too swept the North Country teams at home last week in one-goal games. Junior forward Ryan Kuffner, 2nd in Division I for goals per game, leads the team with 19, but classmate Max Veronneau, who ranks 5th nationally for points per game, has a team-best 32. Rookie goalie Ryan Ferland (3.11, .908, 9-8-3) has all but 3 decisions for the Tigers, including a 33-save effort in the 4-3 win over Clarkson last Saturday.
Yale is 2nd in the nation with 6 shorthanded goals this year trailing only Northern Michigan (7). Joe Snively is tied with a bunch of players as the national leader in SHGs with 3. Ryan Hitchcock, Luke Stevens and Robbie DeMontis have the others for Yale.

The Blue is 2-0-1 in OT games this season… The 56 shots against ASU last Saturday were a season-high… All 3 Yale goals on Friday were unassisted and the Elis had 4 on the weekend… Yale is 4-1-1 against nationally ranked teams this year… Heading into last weekend, the Elis scored 5+ goals in 7 of 9 wins. They won both games last weekend with less than 5… The Blue finished 5-2 in non-conference games.
Former Yale All-American forwards from consecutive classes 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. These Elis 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. The 5th Eli former Eli skater in South Korea for the Games is Phoebe Staenz '17, a player on the Swiss women's national team.

Senior forward Ryan Hitchcock was voted captain by his teammates for the 2017-18 season. The Manhasset, N.Y., native has notched 19 goals and 63 points in his 95-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 nation with 3 shorthanded goals and is a semifinalist for the Walter Brown Award, is tops at Yale with 12 goals and 22 points. He 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. He is currently 8th in the conference with a .52 goal average. 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 (89 pts, 88 career games) has already registered four multi-goal games and five multi-point outings this season.
Junior goalie Sam Tucker (Wilton, Conn.) has enjoyed some excellent performances this season. Tucker, who had 34 saves in a 3-3 OT tie with No. 4 Cornell on Jan. 12, 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 the 2017 ECAC playoffs, where he stopped 68 of 71 shots in first round playoff action against Dartmouth. Tucker has been solid this season, recording a 2.87 goals against average and an .899 save percentage. His Nov. 18 effort at Quinnipiac was one of the best of Tucker's career with 40 saves.

Sophomore Corbin Kaczperski (China Township, Mich.) seven of the 23 starts starts in net and five wins. His best was a 31-save effort in a 4-2 win over New Hampshire on Dec. 30. However, his greatest test may have been 19 stops in a 5-1 win over Colgate on Jan. 13. Zaczperski's first home appearance included 22 saves in the win over UMass on Jan. 5. He has a 1.86 GAA and a .933 SP.

Freshman forward Dante Palecco (7-4-11), 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. Curti and Matthews had goals against Arizona State.
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 14 goals and 26 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 (16 gp, 1-4-5), an Edmonton Oiler draft pick, was named to the roster of the U.S. National Junior Team's pre-IIHF tournament camp.

The Blue heads to New York for games against Colgate and Cornell, a pair of 7 pm conference tilts.

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

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, who have combined for 9 goals and 20 points this winter, have been skating on the same team since they began organized hockey and have been linemates for most of the last dozen years. However, they've mostly been on separate lines since coming to New Haven, and that has worked well for them. 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 (6-0, 190), who scored the OT winner against ASU on Feb. 3, is listed as an inch taller and five pounds heavier than Mitchell. Between the two of them, there has been just one game missed this season.

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. (Holy Cross), and Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. (North Dakota). The 2018 Frozen Four will take place at the Xcel Center in Saint Paul, Minn. (Minnesota).

Yale has played in Alaska and in Canada, but the Bulldogs have never skated outside of North America for a "regular-season" game. That will change next November in Belfast, Ireland. Yale, Union, Boston University and UConn play in the 2018 Northern Irish Connections Friendship Four Tournament (Nov. 23-24). The squads square off at The SSE Arena, home of the Belfast Giants, a professional team that competes within the Elite Ice Hockey League. The arena has hosted the Friendship Four Tournament since 2015.

Yale defenseman Adam Larkin's family has hockey in its blood. Larkin's cousin Dylan skates for the Detroit Red Wings, 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.

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, along with a recognition of the 2012-13 squad that won the national championship five years ago.

by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD/Sports Publicity Director -