Bulldogs Looking for Big Weekend

Feb. 25, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The 10-game unbeaten streak and the eight-game win streak ended last weekend, but the 2008-09 Yale men's hockey team (19-6-2, 14-4-2 ECAC Hockey) has an opportunity to do something this weekend that no Bulldog squad has done in 10 years. The Elis host No. 10 Cornell (17-6-4, 12-5-3) on Friday before Colgate (10-16-6, 5-11-4) comes to town for the regular season finale on Sunday at 4 p.m. Yale has a chance to claim the conference regular season championship for the first time since 1997-98. Both games can be seen live for free on Yale All Access by clicking here: Yale All*Access. Sunday's game can also be seen live on ESPNU (DirecTV 614).

TICKETS

Friday's game is completely sold out for non-student tickets. If anything becomes available, it will be sold at the door on Friday starting at 5:30 pm. Yale students can pick up tickets at the Yale Bookstore on a first-come, first-serve basis. A limited number of tickets are available for Sunday's game against Colgate, which is also Youth Day and Yale Employee Day.

CONFERENCE SCENARIO

Yale controls its own destiny for the No. 1 seed and the Cleary Cup, while the top three (Yale, Princeton, Cornell) have been established with an order still to be determined. Dartmouth controls its own destiny for the final bye. St. Lawrence, Harvard, and Quinnipiac are the other teams still alive for the bye. Dartmouth and St. Lawrence have clinched at least first-round home ice. Harvard, Quinnipiac, Clarkson, and Union all control their own destinies for one of the final three home ice slots, while Colgate, Rensselaer and Brown will travel in the first round.

ELIS AND ECAC

Yale, with a two-point lead over Princeton and three ahead of Cornell, needs three to clinch or help from others. The Elis, picked to finish seventh in both ECAC pre-season polls, have clinched their first conference playoff bye since 2002-03 (3rd place). This is just the third time Yale has earned an automatic quarterfinal spot. The first came in 1997-98, the Elis' only ECAC regular season championship campaign.

SERIES VS. RED, RAIDERS

Cornell, leading 75-51-5, began skating against Yale in 1901-02 and is 3-1-3 vs. the Blue over the last seven meetings. Colgate owns a 44-36-3 lead on Yale in a series that dates to the 1916-17 season. The Elis and Raiders are 3-3 over the last six, though Yale has taken the last three.

RED READING

No. 10/11 Cornell, coming off a sweep of RPI/Union, is the ECAC's top defensive team and No. 3 in the nation with a 1.85 average. The backbone of that unit is junior G Ben Scrivens, who leads the nation in save percentage (.940) and is second in goals against (1.62). Sophomore F Riley Nash, the current ECAC Player of the Week, leads the Red with 11 goals and 28 points.

RAIDERS RISING

Colgate, coming off a three-point weekend at home against the Capitol District squads, is 3-1-1 over the last five games, including wins over Dartmouth and Quinnipiac. Junior F David McIntyre (19-19-38) leads the ECAC in goals and had the game-winner last Saturday against RPI. Charles Long (2.42, .911) had 19 saves to earn the win in that game.

TIGERS HOLD OFF BULLDOGS

Zane Kalemba made 31 saves as Princeton beat Yale 2-0 on Feb. 21 at Baker Rink and prevented the visitors from skating away with the regular season title. The game-winner was scored with a man-advantage early in the third period before adding an empty-netter. Alec Richards made 33 saves.

CATS TIE DOGS

Mark Arcobello scored two goals and Alec Richards stopped 29 of 32 shots, but the Elis had to settle for a 3-3 OT tie at Quinnipiac on Feb. 20. Yale had leads of 2-0 and 3-2 before a packed (4,673) house at TD Banknorth Sports Center. Senior forward Matt Nelson had the other Yale tally while sophomore defenseman Ken Trentowski notched two assists as the boys from New Haven finished 1-0-1 this year against their Hamden rivals. Yale outshot Quinnipiac 39-32 and got the game's only man-advantage goal. Two of the seven shots headed toward Bobcat starting goalie Dan Clarke found the net. Bud Fisher came on to halt 29 of 30 and allow the home team to erase a pair of deficits.

LAST WEEKEND

Yale, which earned one point, was outscored 5-3 but had a 70-67 shot advantage. The Elis suffered their first shutout since the Nov. 21 loss to Alabama-Huntsville and their first road loss (10-game road unbeaten streak) since Nov. 7 at St. Lawrence. The Bulldogs were called for a season-low three penalties at Princeton.

YALE VS. DIVISION I AND CONFERENCE

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

Scoring: 10th/1st (3.37)... Defense: 10th/3rd (2.30)... PIM: 14th/3rd (18.4)... PP: 19th/3rd (17.6)... PK: 7th/1st (88.1).

THE POLLS

Yale, ranked for the sixth time in the last seven weeks, fell four places in the USCHO.com poll to No. 11 and five places (12) in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine. The Bulldogs were No. 7 in both last week, the highest ranking for the Blue since 1998.

BULLDOG BITES

Yale is 12-2-2 over its last 16... The Bulldogs fell five spots in the Pairwise Rankings to No. 12 after a tie and a loss last week... Sophomore F Denny Kearney (Hanover, NH) had a seven-game point streak and a four-game goal streak come to an end at Quinnipiac on Feb. 20... Yale's non-league games next season on the road include Vermont, Holy Cross, Princeton and two games at the University of Wisconsin's tournament. The Elis have UMass and Sacred Heart at home.

RED-BLUE AT LYNAH

Yale beat Cornell 4-3 on Jan. 23, snapped the Big Red's 10-game unbeaten streak and earned its first win at Ithaca since 1999. Four different Bulldogs scored as the visitors outshot the Red 36-20. Brendan Mason had a goal and two assists before leaving the game with an injury in the third period. Jeff Anderson, Tom Dignard and Mark Arcobello also scored for Yale. Ryan Rondeau had 17 saves while stopping seven of eight power plays. Cornell's Ben Scrivens made 32 saves.

RAIDERS-BULLDOGS AT HAMILTON

Yale, trailing by four goals with just over 12 minutes left, scored five straight and stunned Colgate 5-4 in OT on Jan. 24. Kevin Limbert scored one minute into the OT. Bulldog D Tom Dignard had two goals and one assist while Broc Little and Sean Backman also hit the net. The Elis had a huge (46-16) advantage in shots, including 19-5 in the third period. Yale blanked Colgate on six power-play attempts, while not allowing one shot on net over the nearly 12 minutes of man-advantages.

RICHARDS MOVING UP IN RECORD BOOKS

Senior Alec Richards (Robbinsdale, Minn.), who ranks second at Yale with 34 career wins, is fifth with 2,170 career saves while owning the single-season mark with 885 in 2005-06. Richards, who stopped 63 of 67 shots last week, ranks ninth in Division I with a 2.08 GAA. He was recently named a candidate for the 2009 NCAA Frozen Four Skills Competition that will take place on April 10 at Washington, D.C. He was named insidehockey.com National Goalie 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. Richards (14-3-1, .921) owns career 2.73 GAA and .908 SP marks.

YALE BY NUMBER

4 consecutive ECAC weekend sweeps (most ever, ended with tie at Quinnipiac on Feb. 20)

4 straight sellouts at Ingalls Rink (will likely be two more this weekend)

5 game-winning goals for junior Mark Arcobello (3rd in nation)

5 shorthanded goals by Broc Little (most in Division I)

7 wins over ranked teams (most ever)

8 game win streak (ended by Quinnipiac on Feb. 20, most since 13-game streak in 1946-47)

8 wins against Ivy squads (most ever), which clinches outright 2008-09 title

9 game road win streak (ended at Quinnipiac on Feb. 20 with 3-3 tie)

10 game overall unbeaten streak (ended at Princeton on Feb. 21)

14 conference wins (most since 1997-98 Elis had 17)

19 overall wins (most since 1997-98 team had 23)

50 career goals by Sean Backman

DIGNARD MOVES UP DESPITE BEING OUT OF LINEUP

Junior D Tom Dignard (Reading, Mass.), who suffered a season-ending injury in the Jan. 31 Quinnipiac game, is one of the ECAC's top all-around blueliners. Dignard (5-12-17) owns the fourth-best (.81) points-per-game average among conference defensemen and is 11th in Division I.

NOT KILLING THEM SOFTLY

Yale has killed off 51 of opponent's last 55 PP opportunities. Nebraska-Omaha (Dec. 29) was the last opponent to score more than one PPG against Yale.

SHOOT AND ASK QUESTIONS LATER

The Blue has outshot all but four (Quinnipiac, Minnesota State, Union, Princeton) opponents this year and averages 38 shots on target while giving up 27. 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 three of the four games (only loss to Princeton) when being outshot.

10 SHORTHANDERS

The Elis have now scored seven shorthanded goals this year while allowing three. Denny Kearney, who has 1-5-6 in shorthanded situations, and Tom Dignard, who scored at Colgate, are the only Bulldogs other than Broc Little (school record 5) to tally on the PK.

FROSH FLYING

Brian O'Neill (Yardley, Pa.) leads Yale rookies with 9-10-19, including a seven-game point streak. O'Neill's three goals at Dartmouth and Harvard got him ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week on Jan. 12. His two GWG are third on the team, and he is 25th among Division I rookies (4th in ECAC) at .73 points per game.

LITTLE MAKES BIG IMPACT

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. Little (13-15-28) had six goals over four games this year. His 14 goals are third among ECAC players. Little 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 AMONG ECAC LEADERS

Sean Backman (Cos Cob, Conn.), who leads the Blue with 14 goals, ranks 14th in the nation and second in the league with .56 goals per game. He 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. Backman (14-11-25), who has five multiple-goal outings, 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 86 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 34 goals, but the sophomores are close behind at 30. The newcomers have chipped in 18 while the small senior class has nine.

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 with 3-3-6 this winter 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, banged home the game-winner on Feb. 7 against Dartmouth and had Yale's first goal at Quinnipiac last Friday.

ARCO FUELS ELIS

Junior F Mark Arcobello (14-13-27), from nearby Milford, has five game-winners this year, the third most in Division I. He is tied for the team lead in goals with 14 and has points in nine of his last 10 games, including two goals at Quinnipiac on Feb. 20. Arcobello ranks 19th in Division I and third in the ECAC with .52 goals per game.

PINK AT THE RINK

This weekend's games are part of the annual ECAC Hockey "Pink at the Rink" cancer fundraiser, and there will be a special component for the Bulldogs. Yale will be raising money in honor of women's hockey player Mandi Schwartz (Wilcox, Sask.), who has been diagnosed with leukemia. Special Yale Hockey t-shirts with Schwartz' uniform number, 17, will be on sale to raise funds. Schwartz, a junior forward, was diagnosed with leukemia in December at the age of 20. At the time, her streak of 73 straight games played was the longest on the team. She has returned home to Saskatchewan for treatment but remains in touch with the team on a regular basis. Her teammates helped set up a website on CaringBridge, where she provides regular updates on her progress and can receive messages of support.

MORE PINK

This is the second year of "Pink at the Rink", an annual collaboration between ECAC Hockey and the American Cancer Society. This year, the program will also benefit Hockey Coaches Care, which helps members of the amateur hockey community in times of need. The main feature of this year's "Pink at the Rink" program for ECAC Hockey men's teams is the on-line auction of the special pink and black uniforms the team will wear Friday night vs. Cornell. These jerseys, along with the pink ties worn by the coaches, will be available through an on-line auction to benefit the American Cancer Society and Hockey Coaches Care at www.ecachockeycoachesvscancer.com. There will also be a variety of additional promotions taking place to help benefit the cause.

YOUTH DAY

This Sunday will also be Youth Day at Ingalls Rink. There will be a post-game autograph session with the Yale men's hockey players shortly after the conclusion of the 4 p.m. game.

ON THE BENCHES

Keith Allain '80, in his third year as the Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, 1-2-2 against Cornell and 4-1 vs. Colgate, has increased Yale's win total in each of his three seasons, and has helped the Elis enjoy one of their best ever this winter after being picked seventh in both pre-season polls. Big Red mentor Mike Schafer (Cornell '86), in his 14th season, is 17-8-4 against Yale and the winningest coach in school history. Colgate's Don Vaughan (St. Lawrence '84), who is a member of the NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Committee, is in his 16th season. He owns a 21-13-2 record against the Blue.

ALLAIN AFTER PRINCETON

"It was a great hockey game between two very fast, physical and competitive teams. Unfortunately, a power-play goal was the difference," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey.

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).

COACHES VS. CANCER

Friday's game is Yale's night to support the American Cancer Society's Coaches vs. Cancer initiative. The Bulldogs will don black and pink shirts that will be auctioned on ebay.

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 3,100 tickets have already been sold. The only appearance for Yale at an NCAA Regional was in 1998 at Ann Arbor, Mich., against Ohio State.

BULLDOGS OF THE PAST

Here are the 16 former Bulldogs in the pro ranks this winter [Player (Team), Position, League]: Brennan Turner '09 (Gwinnett), D, ECHL; David Meckler '09 (Manchester), F, AHL;Jean-Francois Boucher `08 (Ingolstadt ERC), F, Germany; Robert Page '08 (Trenton), D, ECHL; Blair Yaworski '08 (Syracuse), F, AHL; Bill LeClerc `07 (Mississippi), D, ECHL; Matt Cohen `07 (Trenton), D, ECHL; Brad Mills '07 (Lowell), F, AHL; Chris Brooks `06 (Augusta/Mississippi), D, ECHL; Joe Zappala `06 (Reading), F, ECHL; Chris Higgins '05 (Montreal), F, NHL; Joe Callahan `05 (Bridgeport), D, AHL; Stacey Bauman '03 (Oklahoma City), D, CHL; Jeff Hamilton '01 (Chicago), 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 257 NHL games under his belt. Higgins has 79 goals, 62 assists and 141 points, including 7-6-13 in 32 GP this 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.

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, Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director