YALE IN FINAL PREPARATION FOR NCAA RUN
WORCESTER, Mass. -- The day before an NCAA Tournament game means getting familiar with the venue, having a light workout, checking out the ice and boards and meeting the media. The Yale men’s hockey team, taking part in an NCAA Regional for the second straight year, had a busy schedule today, on and off the ice, in preparation for Saturday’s 5 p.m. ET game with North Dakota.
The first business of the day was an interview session with the talent and production staff for the ESPN broadcast. The requested Bulldogs included Tom Dignard, Mark Arcobello, Denny Kearney, Broc Little and head coach Keith Allain. The coach and players answered questions about their season and what they expected from the Fighting Sioux.
The two seniors, Dignard and Arcobello, also did on-camera interviews. Dignard, who has a 3.71 GPA and is majoring in economics, was asked about some of the more interesting and challenging classes he has taken. His answers made for good in-game sound bites.
All interviews with Allain, the Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Yale Hockey, at the Northeast Regional include a question about coming home. The former Yale goalie and Worcester native’s parents and six brothers still live in the area.
“It’s special to be able to share this with my family. It’s fun to come back home and play an important hockey game,” said Allain, who had two brothers and some nephews in the stands for practice.
The Elis were on the ice for an hour, doing drills and playing mini-games, as players and coaches from the other schools watched with great interest.
The last NCAA duty of the day was a press conference for the rest of the media. Little, Dignard and Allain were at the podium and took questions from local and national media for 10 minutes.
Dignard, who was injured and missed the 2009 post-season run, was asked about his playoff experience last year and how it might help the team this time. “I saw what they went through, and I think we have a different approach this year. We want to prove we are supposed to be here,” said the Reading, Mass., product who played one high school game at the DCU Center before coming to Yale.
Never has a Yale hockey team had two weeks between a regular season and a playoff series before having two more weeks to play an NCAA Tournament game. The Bulldogs used their unprecedented layoff to get healthier, stronger and work on things that needed attention.
“I think it was like topping off the tank,” said Yale hockey strength & conditioning coach Joe Maher responding to the fitness level and strength work that was done in that time. “It was a good two weeks [since the ECAC playoffs] for us.”
The Bulldogs and Sioux have two common opponents in Wisconsin and Cornell, but the similarities go deeper than the 2009-10 season. At least seven Yale players have played on teams with one or more members of the current North Dakota team, mostly in juniors. Bulldogs’ senior goalie Billy Blase played with Darcy Zajac and Evan Trupp in the BCJHL, while freshman forward Josh Balch skated with four different Sioux before coming to New Haven.
Report and image filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director