January 3, 2009

No. 11 Air Force at Ingalls Sunday at 6:00

Jan. 3, 2009

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The 2008-09 Yale men's hockey team (8-4, 4-2 ECAC Hockey), looking for a second straight win against a nationally ranked opponent, hosts No. 11 Air Force Sunday at 6 p.m. A win Sunday night at Ingalls Rink would give the Blue two wins in three games against nationally ranked squads over the last week in New Haven. The game can be seen live Yale's All Access (yalebulldogs.com) and heard on WYBC AM-1340 (wybc.com) with Alex Goldberger '08 and Ron Vaccaro '04 providing the commentary.

SERIES

Yale has an 8-3 lead in the series with Air Force that has not been played since a 2-0 USAF win at the 1999 UMass-Lowell Tournament that broke the Bulldogs' five-game win streak. The Elis have outscored Air Force 60-28 in the 11 meetings that began in 1989.

LAST MEETING

USAF and Yale last met at the 1999 UMass-Lowell Tournament at Tsongas Arena, a 2-0 Falcons win.

THE FALCONS

Air Force (14-3-1, 11-1-1 Atlantic) came off its holiday break to play three games on the UConn campus before heading down I-91 to Ingalls. The Falcons tied the Huskies 2-2 (AF won shootout to advance) in the first round of the Toyota UConn Classic and then fell to Quinnipiac 4-2 in the title game. USAF and UConn play again on Jan. 3.

TALE OF TWO HORSES

The Mavericks of Nebraska-Omaha and the CCHA avenged a 2007 home loss to Yale by beating the Blue 8-3 at Ingalls on Dec. 29. UNO erased a 3-2 deficit with six straight goals and galloped to victory despite a SHG by Yale's Broc Little and goals by Denny Kearney and Kevin Limbert. Alec Richards stopped 19 of 27 shots. The WCHA Minnesota State Mavericks did not fare as well at the Whale the next night. The Bulldogs got payback for a 2008 win at Mankato with a 3-2 victory on Dec. 30 that included two goals by Little and a Sean Backman tally. Ryan Rondeau earned the win with 30 saves, half of them coming in the middle frame.

4 SHORT AND 14 YEARS AGO

Sophomore forward Broc Little (Rindge, NH), who leads the nation with four shorthanded goals, already tied the Yale record (Andy Weidenbach, 2004-05) for SHG in a season. He did not have any as a freshman but has now notched four over the last six games. The career record is five by Weidenbach. Little had two SHG and three overall in the Dec. 29-30 games and now has 12 points over the last six outings. He leads Yale with 15 points (17th in Division I with 1.25 PPG) and was named ECAC Offensive Player of the Week after netting three goals and five points on Dec. 5 and 6 against RPI and Union. Little was Yale's first conference player of the week in 2008-09.

STATE OF NET

Two members of the Yale coaching staff are former goalies, but they are the only two netminders we know won't be in action against USAF. Senior Alec Richards (Robbinsdale, Minn.), who was the only starting Division I goalie with a perfect (6-0) record, lost 8-3 to UNO coming off the long break. He has a 3.01 GAA and an .874 SP. His season-high is 25 stops at Brown in the opener. Sophomore Ryan Rondeau (Carvel, Alb.) stopped 30 of 32 shots to beat MSU on Dec. 30 and now has two wins and a 1.34 GAA. Junior Billy Blase (Santa Monica, Calif.) has two starts and a 3.54 mark.

RANKINGS

Yale is ninth among Divions I teams with 3.42 goals per game (Air Force is the best, 4.17)... The Elis are 31st in scoring defense (2.75), while Air Force (1.61, 4th) ranks higher... The Bulldog powerplay ranks 10th at 19.2; Air Force (24.6) is No. 1... Yale's PK is 26th (84.6).

THE POLLS

Six 2008-09 Yale opponents are listed among the top 20 in the latest USCHO.com/CBS College Sports national poll: Princeton (8), Cornell (10), Air Force (11), Nebraska-Omaha (16), Minnesota State (17) and Dartmouth (20). Yale is unranked but received seven votes.

DOUBLE DIP STREAK OVER

Junior forward Sean Backman (Cos Cob, Conn.), who is ranked third in Division I with a .75 goals-per-game average, ended an interesting streak with one goal against MSU. Backman, who has a team-high nine goals, had four two-goal outings before that game. He was 2007 co-ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year and a third-team all-league pick in 2008. Backman led the Blue with 18 goals and 27 points last winter while earning the Murray Murdoch Award for team MVP the second year in a row. Backman was ranked 14th in the NCAA with 0.56 goals per game last winter, which was second best in ECAC Hockey.

ANOTHER BIG FROSH IMPACT

As freshmen in 2006-07, the class of 2010 easily outscored (43 goals) the other classes and had a repeat (37) performance last winter. The classes of 2011 (28 last winter) and 12 have made significant offensive contributions as well. The Elis, who have had five newcomers on the ice at various times this season, had a season-high six freshmen in the lineup at UConn, including four forwards and a pair of defensemen. Six of the seven members of the class of 2012 have seen action and the class has contributed eight goals. The Yale juniors lead the team with 18 goals. Eli sophomores have 12 while the seniors have three.

BENCH LEADERS

Keith Allain '80, in his third year as the Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, has not coached against USAF. He is a two-time Olympic coach who earned his first collegiate playoff wins as a coach or player last season. USAF head coach Frank Serratore (16th year) owns a 3-7 record against Yale.

BULLDOG BITES

The Elis had outshot every opponent this year unitl Minnesota State (32-31) had more on Dec. 30... The Blue scored a season-high seven goals against RPI last month but did not get a goal from leading goal scorer Sean Backman... The Bulldogs have eight power-play goals over the last six games and 15 overall this season. That total is just six less (21) than the 2007-08 team total... Keith Allain, currently 35-35-7 overall at Yale, is the first Eli mentor to be .500 overall during his third season since Dick Gagliardi (60-105-2, 7 years), who was 24-23-1 after the first game of the 1967-68 season.

WHALE WATCHING

A $23.5 million renovation of historic David S. Ingalls Rink is in the second of three phases. The project includes the addition of approximately 13,000 square feet of varsity operational space as well as a complete renovation of the current facility. The expanded and enhanced home of Yale Hockey will include new men's and women's varsity locker rooms, training and strength and conditioning rooms, two new press boxes, a lower level hockey heritage area, offices for coaches of both programs, a student-athlete study area, new lights, as well as a sound system and de-humidification unit. The upper level interior will also be decorated with photos displaying the rich history of Yale Hockey.

ROSTER BITES

Senior F Patrick Brosnihan and senior G Alec Richards are the tallest Elis at 6-foot-4... Brosnihan and junior D Ryan Donald are the heaviest (220) Bulldogs... Senior F and captain Matt Nelson is the oldest (turns 23 in early January), while freshman D Kevin Peel (19) is the youngest... The Blue has 15 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies... Yale has seven players from both the USHL and prep schools, five from the BCJHL, two each from the AJHL, EJHL and public schools and one from the U.S. National Program.

HIGGINS THE HAB

There is one former Yale player skating in the National Hockey League. Chris Higgins '05 is in his fifth season with the Montreal Canadiens and has 245 NHL games under his belt. Higgins has 77 goals, 60 assists and 137 points, including 4-5-9 in 18 playoff games and 5-4-9 this season. He is currently out with an injury. The only other Eli to skate in the NHL this season is Joe Callahan '05, who had three games with the Islanders in December.

AIRING ELIS

Every home game can be seen live on Yale's All Access (yalebulldogs.com) for free. All home games and select road contests can be heard live on WYBC (AM 1340) and wybc.com. Alex Jenson `09, Michael Dunn '10 and Paul Treadgold '10 provide the call for most broadcasts.

CONNECTICUT'S NCAA REGIONAL

Yale and Fairfield are co-hosting the first-ever NCAA Hockey Regional Tournament in the Nutmeg State on March 27-28 at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. There are four regional events that weekend with the winners headed to Washington, D.C., for the 2009 Frozen Four. Yale hosted the 2004 NCAA Women's Frozen Four at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., but has never hosted a men's NCAA hockey event. More than 2,000 tickets have already been sold.

ECAC HOCKEY ON NHL NETWORK

The NHL Network airs a Friday night college hockey package showcasing 19 contests beginning Oct. 31 and March 21. Three leagues (CCHA, WCHA and ECAC Hockey) are part of the package, which consists of games produced by network entities but provided to the NHL Network. ECAC Hockey has three league games and three post-season contests on the network.

YALE TUBE

The Elis are on TV at least three times this winter, including two games at Ingalls Rink. Both Quinnipiac games are live TV broadcasts. The game at Ingalls on Jan. 31 is on NESN while the Feb. 20 tilt at TD Banknorth Arena airs live on My9. The last game of the regular season is a stand-alone ESPNU game for Yale and Colgate on Sunday, March 1 at the Whale.

release filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD and Sports Publicity Director