March 22, 2009
The Bulldogs, by virtue of their first-ever ECAC Hockey Tournament Championship, knew where they would be playing this Friday, the first day of the NCAA Hockey East Regional at the Arena at Harbor Yard. However, that was the only information available until they gathered this morning to watch the NCAA selection show. Yale players left the "hockey house" and headed for practice at Ingalls knowing the following: the Bulldogs are the No. 5 seed overall and No. 2 at the Bridgeport Regional; the Elis face No. 3 seed Vermont at 6:30 p.m. on March 27; and the 3:00 matchup features Michigan (1) vs. Air Force (4).
"It was cool to see it [selection show] on TV. We look forward to playing new teams," said Yale captain Matt Nelson, who scored the game-winner with 1:06 left in last Friday's ECAC Hockey semifinal against St. Lawrence. "This should feel almost like a home game for us, like Cornell felt at Albany [at the ECACs] this past weekend."
Vermont (20-11-5), an ECAC member before joining Hockey East, finished third this season and got knocked out of the conference tournament by UMass-Lowell in the quarterfinals. Yale earned an automatic spot in the NCAA field after blanking Cornell 5-0 on Saturday night at Albany.
The Bulldogs are 27-24-4 against UVM since the first meeting on Jan. 9, 1976. The last meeting was a 5-0 Cats win on Feb. 18, 2005.
"We surmised that it may be Vermont last night on the bus and started making some phone calls," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey, who did not watch the selection show. "We knew we were in and I knew I'd get a phone call," said Allain, explaining why he was not in front of the TV this morning.
Yale has two NCAA post-season hockey appearances. The first came in 1952 at Colorado Springs, Colo., when Yale fell to Colorado College, 4-3, in the semifinals. The Elis and St. Lawrence were selected that year to represent the East at the final four. The Bulldogs beat the Saints 4-1 in the consolation game. Yale's last NCAA playoff contest was a 4-0 loss to Ohio State at Ann Arbor, Mich., in the 1998 West Regional.
"The whole thing is just incredible. You dream about moments like this and now we have a chance to do something special," said Allain, a former Bulldog goalie.
Vermont, No. 9 in the Pairwise Rankings, is led offensively by forward Viktor Stålberg, who has 23 goals and 43 points. Freshman goalie Rob Madore (2.36, .911), who has been a select or juniors teammate of at least two Yale players, has the majority of work in the Catamount net.
"UVM is very fast, plays an up-tempo game and has some big wins this year. They are clearly a quality opponent," said Allain.
Release filed by Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director