February 10, 2009

Streaking Bulldogs Head For NY Challenge

Feb. 10, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The 2008-09 Yale men's hockey team (17-5-1, 12-3-1 ECAC Hockey), 10-1-1 over its last 12 and alone at the top of ECAC Hockey, looks to increase its seven-game unbeaten streak when it travels to Union (14-12-2, 7-8-1) and Rensselaer (6-20-2, 5-10-1) this weekend. The Bulldogs and Dutchmen square off in a 7:30 game Friday at Achilles Rink that can be seen live on the NHL Network (DirecTV 215). The Blue and Engineers drop the puck at 7:00 Saturday at Houston Field House. Both games can be heard live on WYBC AM-1340 and wybc.com.

SERIES

Union has a two-game win streak against Yale but the Elis have the overall edge at 18-14-3 in a series that began in 1991-92. Yale and Rensselaer began playing during the 1908-09 season and the Engineers own a 48-36-6 advantage despite the Bulldogs taking the last four.

BULLDOG UPDATE

Yale, 10th in the latest USCHO.com Pairwise Rankings, has won six straight games including three straight ECAC weekend sweeps. That run puts the Blue at 25 points in the conference with six games left. It's the first time since 1998 that Yale has been in first place at any point in February.

BLUE OVER GREEN

Alec Richards stopped 36 of 37 shots and got goals from three different teammates as Yale beat No. 19 Dartmouth 3-1 on Feb. 7. The Bulldogs had the advantage in shots (44-36) and overcame a 1-0 deficit with three straight goals. Richards made 16 stops over the final 20 minutes, while Jody O'Neill had 41 saves. Denny Kearney and Matt Nelson put pucks past O'Neill, while Sean Backman tallied an empty-netter when the Big Green goalie was pulled for an extra attacker.

SHOTS FLY ON CRIMSON

Mike Matczak had two goals and Kevin Limbert had 1-3-4 as Yale outshot Harvard 50-15 en route to a 5-1 win on Feb. 6. The Bulldogs had their largest shot margin this year, scored a season-high four power-play goals and stayed out of the penalty box. Denny Kearney and Broc Little had the other goals, while the Bulldog defensive effort allowed its fewest shots on goal of 2008-09. Alec Richards made only 14 saves to earn the win.

CAPITAL DISTRICT NOTES

Union swept a home-and-home series with RPI last weekend 3-0 and 2-1 (OT). The Dutchmen, 9-1 when leading after two frames, is getting great goaltending from sophomore Corey Milan (2.58, .907), who needed 45 saves over the two nights last weekend to get both wins, while five different Union players scored. Both Allen York and Mathias Lange played well in goal for RPI last week, but the Engineers could not muster enough offense.

RICHARDS CANDIDATE FOR FROZEN 4 SKILLS

Senior Alec Richards (Robbinsdale, Minn.) was named a candidate for the 2009 NCAA Frozen Four Skills Competition that will take place on April 10 at Washington, D.C. Richards has a 0.75 GAA and a .974 SP over the last four games. He was named insidehockey.com National Player of the Week as well as ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Week on Feb. 2 after stopping 63 of 64 shots in wins over Princeton and Quinnipiac. His 32-save effort was the difference in a 3-1 win over No. 9 Princeton on Jan. 30. He also had 29 saves in a 2-1 win at No. 15 Dartmouth. Richards (12-2, 2.19, .915) has 32 wins (2nd all-time at Yale) and owns career 2.79 GAA and .907 SP marks.

LAST WEEKEND STATS

Yale outscored Harvard/Dartmouth by a combined 8-2 and the shots were 94-52 for the Blue, who killed off 7 of 8 penalties while tallying four goals on 11 man-advantages.

SHOT ON GOAL NEVER A BAD PLAY

The Blue has outshot all but two (Quinnipiac, Minnesota State) opponents this year and averages 38 shots on target while giving up 25. The Bulldogs outshot Cornell/Colgate 82-36 on Jan. 23-24, while the largest one-game disparity was 35 (50-15 vs. Harvard). The Blue has won both games when being outshot.

YALE BY NUMBER

3 consecutive ECAC weekend sweeps (most since 1997-98)

4 straight sellouts at Ingalls Rink (3,500 capacity)

5 game-winning goals for junior Mark Arcobello (2nd in nation)

6 game win streak (most since a 7-game streak in 1997-98)

7 game unbeaten streak

7 wins over ranked teams (most ever)

8 wins against Ivy squads (most ever), which clinches at least a share of the 2008-09 title

9 goals scored by Broc Little in ECAC games (2nd most for anyone in league)

12 conference wins (most since 2002-03 Elis had 13)

17 overall wins (most since 2002-03 team had 18)

50 career games reached by Jeff Anderson and Broc Little

50 career goals by Sean Backman

57 years ago that Yale swept both Harvard & Dartmouth in the same regular season

DIGNARD OUT FOR YEAR

Junior D Tom Dignard (Reading, Mass.) suffered a season-ending injury in the Jan. 31 Quinnipiac game. Dignard, one of the ECAC's top all-around blueliners, is 14th among Division I defenseman with .81 points per game. Only four ECAC defenseman have more points per game in conference play than Dignard (5-12-17).

NOT KILLING THEM SOFTLY

Yale has killed off 34 of opponent's last 36 PP opportunities and only allowed a combined 33 shots on goal during those advantages. Nebraska-Omaha was the last opponent to score more than one PPG against Yale.

A FEW GOOD MEN

The Elis have now scored six shorthanded goals this year while allowing three. Tom Dignard, who scored at Colgate, is the only Bulldog other than Broc Little (school record 5) to tally on the PK.

O'NEILL STREAK

Brian O'Neill (Yardley, Pa.) leads Yale rookies with 8-9-17, including a point in the last nine of 11. O'Neill's three goals at Dartmouth and Harvard got him ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week on Jan. 12. His two GWG are second on the team, and he is 19th among Division I rookies (3rd in ECAC) at .80 points per game.

KING OF SHORTY

Sophomore F Broc Little (Rindge, NH) leads the nation with five shorthanded goals, one more than Matt Fairchild of Air Force. That breaks the single-season Yale record held by Andy Weidenbach in 2004-05. It also ties him with Weidenbach for the career mark of five. Colgate's Greg Drechsel (1985-88) holds the ECAC season (8) and career (14) SHG records. Little (13-12-25), who had six goals over four games this year, is 15th in Division I with .57 GPG. Little, whose nine goals in conference play are second most in the league, was named ECAC Offensive Player of the Week after netting three goals and five points on Dec. 5 and 6 against RPI and Union.

BACKMAN NAMED BROWN SEMI-FINALIST

The Gridiron Club of Greater Boston announced last week that Sean Backman (Cos Cob, Conn.) is one of 16 Division I players picked as semi-finalists for the Walter Brown Award, presented annually to the best American-born college hockey player in New England. The junior F leads the team in goals and points. Backman (14-11-25), who has five multiple-goal outings, is ranked 11th in Division I with a .61 goals-per-game. He was 2007 co-ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year and a third-team all-league pick in 2008 (18-9-27). Backman has been team MVP the last two years. He has 50 goals and 83 points in 84 career games.

EXPERIENCED NET

Two other Bulldogs have plenty of experience in the Yale goal. Sophomore Ryan Rondeau (Carvel, Alb.) was in goal for wins over No. 17 Minnesota State (30 saves), No. 11 Air Force (29) and No. 3 Cornell (17). Rondeau is 4-1 with a 2.27 GAA and a .901 SP while having 30 perecent of Yale's net action. Junior Billy Blase (Santa Monica, Calif.) had a Yale season-high 32 saves in a win at Harvard on Jan. 10 and stopped 26 more in the 2-2 draw with SLU on Jan. 17. He has a 2.71 GAA with a .911 SP.

EACH CLASS PRODUCING

The Yale juniors lead the team with 31 goals, but the sophomores are close behind at 26. The newcomers have chipped in 17 while the small senior class, which provides much more than offense, has six.

UNION AT THE WHALE IN DECEMBER

Union came back from a 2-0 hole by tallying five straight to take a 5-2 decision over the Bulldogs, who outshot the Dutchmen 37-33 and had plenty of chances to put this one away early. Union weathered the early Bulldog storm with great goaltending by sophomore Corey Milan, who finished with 35 saves. Yale goalie Billy Blase (28 saves), who was making his second start of the year, stopped everything thrown at him through the first 38 minutes. Then the roof caved in and a two-goal night by Yale sophomore Broc Little was spoiled.

RPI, YALE AT NEW HAVEN

Yale erased a two-goal deficit with six straight goals on the way to a 7-3 win over Rensselaer back in December. Mark Arcobello and Kevin Peel had two goals each and Broc Little had a goal and two assists as the Bulldogs outshot the Engineers. Alec Richards earned the win in net with 24 saves. He did not allow an RPI goal after giving up a third tally late in the first period and had 13 saves in the final frame. Mathias Lange finished with 28 stops through 43 minutes. Both goalies gave up a pair of power-play goals.

CAPTAIN NELSON

Yale senior captain Matt Nelson (Westwood, Mass.) works as hard as any Bulldog on and off the ice. He is a relentless forechecker who can transform a turnover into a shot at the net as quick as anyone on the team. Nelson (in photo), who has a 3.25 GPA in economics and has a job lined up with Royal Bank of Scotland next year, rifled four shots on the Dartmouth goal and banged home the game-winner last Saturday.

ARCOBELLO KEEPING PACE

Junior F Mark Arcobello, the Bulldog with the closest (Milford, Conn.) hometown to New Haven, has five game-winners this year, the second most total in Division I. He currently has points in six straight games.

ON THE BENCHES

Keith Allain '80, in his third year as the Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, is 5-1-1 against RPI and 0-4-1 vs. Union. He is a two-time Olympic coach who has increased Yale's win totals in each of his three seasons at New Haven. Seth Appert (3rd season at RPI) is 1-5-1 against Yale. He spent nine years as a University of Denver assistant before coming to Troy. Nate Leaman, a former Harvard assistant coach, is 8-4-1 against Yale in his sixth season at Union.

ALLAIN AFTER LAST WEEKEND

"It was a very good weekend for us," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey. "I am really impressed with the way our guys responded after the first period [Saturday]. We came out and stormed them in the second, which says a lot about these guys. There is a sense of confidence that comes when you have success."

ALUMNI GAME

The Blue defeated the White 10-9 in OT in the 2009 Yale Hockey Alumni Game on Feb. 7 at Ingalls. Christian Jensen '06 scored the GWG and took MVP honors while Nate Jackson '06 and Paul Castraberti '81 also took game honors.

YALE VS. DIVISION I

Here's how the Elis stack up against the rest of the nation/ECAC heading into the weekend:

Scoring: 8th/1st (3.48)... Defense: 11th/3rd (2.35)... PIM: 9th/3rd (19.6)... PP: 18th/4th (18.4)... PK: 10th/2nd (87.8).

THE POLLS

Yale, 10th in both major polls,has its highest ranking since March 1998 when USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine had the Elis No. 5 and USCHO.com had them No. 6. Yale is ranked for the fourth time in five weeks. This week, Yale moved four places in both the USCHO.com and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Polls.

RANKED OPPONENTS

Yale has wins over seven teams that were listed in the USCHO.com Top 20 Poll at the time: Cornell (3), Princeton (9), Air Force (11), Clarkson (15), Dartmouth (15 & 19) and Minnesota State (17). The one loss was to Nebraska-Omaha (16).

DIFFERENT LOOK FOR BLUE

Yale will have a very different look on Feb. 28 when Cornell comes to town. The Bulldogs, who normally wear white jerseys with blue numbers and letters, will don black and pink shirts and socks to help commemorate the Pink at the Rink Fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The Big Red dress in all red on the road but will have to sport their home white jerseys that night.

BULLDOGS OF THE PAST

Here are the 14 former Bulldogs in the pro ranks this winter [Player (Team), Position, League]: Jean-Francois Boucher `08 (Ingolstadt ERC), F, Germany; Robert Page '08 (Trenton Devils), D, ECHL; Blair Yaworski '08 (Syracuse Crunch, F, AHL; Bill LeClerc `07 (Mississippi Sea Wolves), D, ECHL; Matt Cohen `07 (Trenton Devils), D, ECHL; Brad Mills '07 (Lowell Devils), F, AHL; Chris Brooks `06 (Augusta Lynx), D, ECHL; Joe Zappala `06 (Reading Royals), F, ECHL; Chris Higgins '05 (Montreal Canadiens), F, NHL; Joe Callahan `05 (Bridgeport Sound Tigers), D, AHL; Stacey Bauman '03 (Oklahoma City Blazers), D, CHL; Jeff Hamilton '01 (Chicago Wolves), F, AHL; Ray Giroux `98 (St. Petersburg SKA), D, Russia; Alex Westlund '98 (Linz EHC), G, Austria.

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 254 NHL games under his belt. Higgins has 79 goals, 61 assists and 140 points, including 7-5-12 in 29 GP this season.

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 2,600 tickets have already been sold. The only appearance for Yale at an NCAA Regional was in 1998 at Ann Arbor, Mich., against Ohio State.

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.

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 provides the call for most broadcasts.

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