January 6, 2009

Blue Skaters Back in ECAC Play

Jan. 6, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The 2008-09 Yale men's hockey team (9-4, 4-2 ECAC Hockey), looks for its third straight win in its third consecutive game against a ranked opponent when the Bulldogs head to Hanover to play No. 15 Dartmouth (9-5, 6-3) on Friday night. After the Blue battles at Thompson Arena, Keith Allain's skaters head to the Bright Center at Harvard (4-10-2, 4-5-2) for a Saturday night contest. Both 7 p.m. games can be heard on WYBC AM-1340 (wybc.com).

SERIES

The Bulldogs are 2-3-1 in the last six against the Crimson, who own a 134-72-18 advantage in a series that began in 1900. The Elis are 2-28-3 at the Bright Hockey Center, the one win coming in 2006. Yale, which owns a 95-84-12 lead on the Big Green, have split the last four. The Blue last won at Hanover in November '06.

LAST MEETINGS

Dartmouth converted four power-play chances in a 7-2 win before 4,175 at Thompson Arena last February. Eli goalie Billy Blase, who faced a pair of long 5-on-3 situations, had 29 saves as Yale was outshot 36-31. Sean Backman had both Eli goals. Yale outshot Harvard 41-30 at Cambridge late last winter but could only convert one of nine power plays in a 6-1 loss. The Crimson, which tallied three man-advantage goals on eight attempts, got 37 saves from Kyle Richter. Blase got the start in goal for Yale but was lifted after making 10 saves and allowing three goals in the first period. Alec Richards stopped 14 shots over the last 40 minutes.

BULLDOGS TAKE 2 OF 3 RANKED TEAMS

Yale was busy at home over the holidays with three games against ranked teams from three other conferences. The Blue fell to Nebraska-Omaha 8-3 before beating Minnesota State and Air Force by 3-2 counts. Ryan Rondeau earned both wins in net and combined for 59 saves on 63 shots while Broc Little had three goals, including two shorthanded.

GREEN, CRIMSON NOTES

Dartmouth has won three of four and is coming off a 4-0 win at No. 7 Princeton. Sophomore D Joe Stejskal (Montreal draft pick) leads the team with six goals, while frosh goalie Jody O'Neill (2.23, .935, 9-4) has all but one decision. Harvard, coming off a 5-1 loss to Princeton on Jan. 3, has lost nine straight heading into Friday's game with Brown. Senior F Nick Coskren (5-1-6) leads the Cantabs in goals. Rookie Matt Hoyle (3.18, .895, 4-9-2) has had most of the work in net.

DANGEROUS WHEN SHORT

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 notched four over a six-game span before the new year. 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 seven outings. He leads Yale with 15 points (9th in Division I with .62 GPG), and he 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

Sophomore Ryan Rondeau (Carvel, Alb.) stopped 30 of 32 shots to beat MSU on Dec. 30 and then blocked 29 of 31 against Air Force to beat two nationally ranked teams. He is 3-1 with a 1.51 GAA and a .939 SP. Senior Alec Richards (Robbinsdale, Minn.) has most of the net time for Yale. Richards (6-1, 3.01, .874) has been in goal for 29 Bulldog wins and owns a 2.92 career GAA. Junior Billy Blase (Santa Monica, Calif.) has two starts and a 3.54 GAA.

YALE VS. DIVISION I

Here's how the Elis stack up against the rest of the nation -- Scoring: 9th (3.38)... Defense: 26th (2.69)... PIM: 7th (19.4)... PP: 8th (20.2).

THE POLLS

The Blue got 33 votes in the latest USCHO.com/CBS College Sports national poll but did not crack the Top 20. Five Yale opponents did: Princeton (7), Cornell (8), Air Force (14), Dartmouth (15) and Nebraska-Omaha (18). The Elis got six votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll.

DOUBLE DIP STREAK OVER

Junior forward Sean Backman (Cos Cob, Conn.), who is ranked fourth in Division I with a .77 goals-per-game average, ended an interesting streak with one goal against MSU. Backman, who has a team-high 10 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. He has 46 goals in 74 career games.

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 nine goals. The Yale juniors lead the team with 19 goals. Eli sophomores have 13 while the seniors have three.

GRADS ON THE BENCHES

Keith Allain '80, in his third year as the Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, is 2-2 against the Green and 2-3-1 against the Crimson. He is a two-time Olympic coach who played goal at Yale before becoming a coach. Allain coached fifth-year Crimson mentor and former NHL and U.S. National player Ted Donato (Harvard '91), who is 6-3-1 vs. Yale, at the 1992 Winter Olympics. Bob Gaudet (Dartmouth '81), who has also been head coach at Brown (10-10-3 vs. Yale), is 17-10-2 vs. Yale in 12 years with the Green.

BULLDOG BITES

Junior F Mark Arcobello (Milford, Conn.) ranks third in GWG with three and is 19th nationally with .54 points per game... Junior Tom Dignard (Reading, Mass.) ranks 17th among defenseman nationally with .77 points per game while F Brian O'Neill (Yardley, Pa.) is 30th among rookies at .69... The Elis had outshot every opponent this year unitl Minnesota State (32-31) had more on Dec. 30... The Bulldog power-play unit, ranked 8th in Division I at 20.2, has hit the net 17 times compared to 21 PPG scored last winter.

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, Associate AD and Sports Publicity Director

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