By: Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity
NEW HAVEN, CT – The Yale men’s hockey team begins the second half of the 2016-17 season by hosting Northeastern Tuesday night at the Whale. The Bulldogs are coming off a 7-1 exhibition win over Ottawa on Dec.28, while the Huskies are coming off a high-scoring victory, 8-2 over Clarkson.
Heading into the new year, the Bulldogs (4-6-2) were led offensively by skaters from three different classes. Senior captain John Hayden is one of the nation’s top goal scorers with 10 in a dozen games. He and sophomore Joe Snively (7 goals) share the team lead with 16 points. The primary puck distributor has been junior Ryan Hitchcock, who has 13 assists in 12 games. Youth has been a big part of the 2016-17 season. The Elis, who have been down two defensemen all season, have been playing three freshmen a night on the blueline and seven overall. Junior Adam Larkin heads the list of scorers from the D corps with three goals and nine points. Behind them have been two goalies getting their first opportunities to compete for the top job. Senior Patrick Spano, who was in net for all four wins, has nine of the 12 starts and carries a 2.74 goals against into today’s game. Sophomore Sam Tucker has gotten the nod for three starts, all against nationally ranked teams, including two road contests. His latest, at No. 6 Boston University on Dec. 13, produced a career-high 29 saves in 40 minutes of playing in the 5-2 loss to the Terriers.
The first game against Northeastern was in 1950, and Yale leads 21-20-1 overall. The Huskies are 3-2 over the last five, including a close game at Matthews Arena two seasons ago. This is the 29th meeting of Yale and Providence.
An early lead was not enough to carry the Bulldogs to a road win against the Huskies in January of 2015. Mike McMurtry scored a power-play goal at 16:46 of the third period to cap Northeastern’s come-from-behind, 3-2, victory over Yale at Matthews Arena. The Huskies erased a 2-0 deficit with three straight goals. The Bulldogs had a slight edge in shots… Yale had an opportunity to knock off the nation’s top ranked team and end its 15-game unbeaten streak last year when the Elis played at Providence. The Friars took a 4-3 game before a packed Schneider Arena. The Friars erased a one-goal deficit in the third with a pair of tallies to take a hard-fought contest in the first meeting in 17 years.
Northeastern, which has wins over Providence, Minnesota and Michigan State, 7-7-4 overall coming off a second straight win on Dec. 30. The Huskies have eight NHL draft picks on the roster, but their leading scorer, Zach Aston-Reese (17-15-32), who is second in the nation in goal scoring, is not one of them. Dylan Sikura (11-18-29) is a Chicago draft pick who completes an offensive tandem that is hard to match in Division I this season. Sophomore Ryan Ruck (2.99, .892) has most of the decisions between the pipes
YALE 7, OTTAWA 1
Mike Doherty had three goals while Ryan Hitchcock and Joe Snively each chipped in four points in the Dec. 28 win over Ottawa, the first meeting of those two schools. All three goals got a period of action in a contest that had Yale outshooting the Gee-Gees 39-13.
The Bulldogs, in the middle of three straight games against Hockey East schools, plays against UConn at the XL Center on Saturday at 3 p.m., before coming back to Ingalls on Jan. 10 for a contest with Providence College.
Nine freshmen joined the team this year and seven (4 F, 3 D) of them have been playing regularly. The nine rookies are the most Keith Allain has had, but there are 10 schools this year who have more. The most is Miami with 14.
John Hayden leads the nation in power-play goals and is fourth with .83 goals per game overall. He has had a lot of great moments in his Yale career; the latest coming at RPI this season with two goals in 42 seconds at RPI to tie the game and then win it in OT on Nov. 5. However, the essence of his impact on the Yale team was on display in one scoring sequence last season at Arizona State. The Yale forward, who led the Elis with 16 goals and five game-winners (4th in nation), blasted a Sun Devils defenseman with the puck in the slot and sent him sliding back into the goalie while Hayden grabbed the puck and flicked it top shelf. Hayden had the best season of his career last winter. He was one of Yale’s top scorers the year before despite missing a few games to serve as alternate captain for the U.S. National Junior Team at the IIHF World Junior Championships. Hayden gets much of his inspiration from the memory of former HoneyBaked (AAA Club) teammate, the late Ian Jenkins, a goalie whose motto was “Have a Purpose” (HAP). Hayden and others are currently organizing fundraising events to raise money for the Big “E” Have a Purpose Foundation. The Greenwich, Conn., native, a third round NHL draft pick by Chicago, has a HAP 35 logo on his stick and wore a sticker on his helmet when he was with the U.S. National Development Program. Hayden has plenty of Team USA experience, including winning a silver medal at the 2013 IIHF U-18 World Championships in Sochi, Russia.
Junior forward Ryan Hitchcock, voted by his teammates as the top passer among the Elis, is showing why he got the nod. Hitchcock is sixth in the nation with a 1.08 assist average. His top game this season was three assists vs. RPI on Dec. 9. He finished with 14 points in 22 games last season after helping Team USA to a bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Juniors in Finland. The U.S. team beat Sweden 8-3 to grab third place. Hitchcock, the third line left wing for the U.S. squad and the eighth Bulldog to play in this tournament, played in every game while becoming the first Eli to earn a medal at the world juniors.
Joe Snively, who has six goals and eight points over his last five games, is 16th in the country with 1.33 points per game. The sophomore’s best outing this year is 2-1-3 vs. RPI on Dec. 9 at New Haven, which followed his making the all-tournament team at Notre Dame in late November. Snively was the 2015-16 ECAC Hockey and Ivy League Rookie of the Year after leading the Blue with 28 (10-18) points. Snively earned two conference rookie of the week honors and was January’s ECAC Rookie of the Month. The Herndon, Va., native scored a goal against Dartmouth that was the No. 1 highlight on the NCAA Plays of the Week, while he enjoyed a career-high, three-point night. His 28 points were the most for an Eli rookie since Andrew Miller ’13 had 34 in 2009-10. Snively, the former USHL (Sioux City) star, has a pair of two-goal games (UMass, Harvard). His second of the night at Boston on Nov. 6, 2015, tied the game with under a minute to play. He was 8th among Division I rookies with .96 points per game.
Senior Patrick Spano’s first season as the veteran goalie has not been easy, especially with so many first-time regulars on the blueline and seven or eight rookies in the lineup each night. Spano (2.74 GAA, .895 SP) got the win on Dec. 9 against RPI with 21 saves. He combined for 48 saves (51 shots) at the Shillelagh Tournament and stopped a penalty shot in the win over Holy Cross. Spano, who speaks fluent Italian and French, has a scissor hand comparable to his catching glove, and some of his teammates trust him enough to cut their hair. He has been helping teammates with haircuts since his prep school days at Westminster. Spano played for Cowichan Valley in the British Columbia Hockey League before coming to New Haven.
Sophomore goalie Sam Tucker has made three (at SLU, Union, at BU) starts, each against nationally ranked teams… Yale has three games over seven days, ending with the Jan. 10 Providence contest, before heading into the ECAC stretch run… Sophomore forward JM Piotrowski, out with an injury the first part of the season, saw his first action of the year tonight… Former Eli forward Kenny Agostino ’14, who is skating for the AHL Chicago Wolves, leads the AHL in assists and points with 26 and 35… F Mark Arcobello ’10 leads the Swiss-A league with 40 points and is second in goals (20)… F Broc Little ’11 tops the SHL (Sweden) in points (28).
The superlatives survey among Bulldogs produced the following leaders:
Strongest (pound for pound): Chris Izmirlian
Fastest on skates: Ted Hart
Hardest shot: Frankie DiChiara
Best fore-checker: John Hayden
Best passer: Ryan Hitchcock**
Best sense of humor: Patrick Spano
Best singer: Mike Doherty**
Most talkative: Dan O’Keefe
Biggest appetite: Frankie DiChiara*
Most Unique Hobby: Chandler Lindstrand (Rubix Cube)
Most soft spoken: Ted Hart
Want your sister to date: Adam Larkin**
Best dresser: Ryan Hitchcock**
Most likely to become a coach: John Hayden/Tim Bonner
It is very possible that Evan and Mitchell Smith are the first twins to skate for the Yale men’s hockey team. The Stouffville, Ontario, brothers have been skating on the same team since they began organized hockey and have been linemates since they were eight-years old. However, they have not been on the same line when both in the lineup every game this season. The identical twins, wearing jerseys No. 13 (Evan) and 14 (Mitchell), attended Salisbury School before playing for Dubuque in the USHL. Even teammates are challenged to tell the difference between the two, but Evan (6-0, 190) is listed as an inch taller and five pounds heavier than Mitchell.
The Yale roster includes players from 11 different states and two provinces. There are four players from both Massachusetts and Minnesota while Michigan and Ontario each have three. Connecticut, New York and New Jersey also have a pair. All-time Yale hockey rosters have included players from 30 different states. There are 23 Americans and four Canadians.
CAN’T TEACH BIG
This winter the Bulldogs average 6-feet in height and 188 pounds. Yale is the eighth smallest in Division I for weight. The heaviest team in the country is Western Michigan (198.6), the tallest is Maine (6-1.5).
The United States Hockey League contributed 15 players to the Bulldog roster, the most by any league. Here is a breakdown of the 2016-17 roster: USHL – 15… Prep/High School – 4… EJHL – 2… BCHL – 2…USNDT – 2… NAHL – 2.
Yale has been to the national tournament seven times, including six under current head coach Keith Allain. Over the last five season, which included Yale’s 2013 national title, the only ECAC Hockey school with more NCAA appearances than the Elis (3) is Quinnipiac (4). There are only seven (BC, Denver, North Dakota, Minnesota, UML, St. Cloud State) schools in the country with four or five in that span.
The Bulldogs have six seniors, including four forwards, a defenseman and a goalie. There are five juniors, seven sophomores, and nine newcomers. The seniors have hit the net 17 times this season; they are followed by the sophomores (12), juniors (4) and freshmen (3).
The current team includes 23 players who captained their teams prior to Yale, eight who captained other sports, 20 who were scholar-athlete award winners, 14 who graduated in the top 10 percent of their class, six National Honor Society members and three who were class presidents.
DID YOU KNOW
Forward Henry Hart, who has been playing forward since his youth hockey days until this season, has worked with both the Herb Brooks and Tony Sanneh Foundations while also having an internship on Mike McFadden’s 2014 U.S. Senate campaign. His sister, Annie, was a five-time All-America skier at Dartmouth and is now a pro with SMS T2 ski team…. Mike Doherty’s father, Michael Doherty, is Deputy Chief of the City of Boston Fire Department and serves on the game night staff for Boston Bruins games at the TD Bank Boston Garden… Frankie DiChiara, who broke a pane of Ingalls glass with a short backhander in practice as a junior, has a strong father; Ernie DiChiara is a former Connecticut State ADFPA Powerlifting Champion… The Yale roster doesn’t have much of an international flair, but at least six languages can be spoken among the group.
YALE ON AIR
All home regular season games at Ingalls Rink are broadcast live on the Ivy League Digital Network. A selection of those are simulcast on ESPN3. Go to http://www.ivyleaguedigitalnetwork.com to sign up for a game or a season subscription.
David S. Ingalls Rink, named after the World War I U.S. Navy Flying Ace, opened in 1958, was dedicated in 1959 and had major renovations in 2010. It’s the eighth oldest active college hockey venue and the fifth oldest in ECAC Hockey. The best place to park on game night at Ingalls (a.k.a. The Whale) is the garage accessed by Prospect Street. There are press boxes on both sides of the building; broadcasters and visiting teams/media are on the Prospect side.
BULLDOGS IN THE PROS
Eighteen former Bulldogs have played professionally this season.
Jean-Francois Boucher ’08 – Cologne Sharks- DEL
Mark Arcobello ’10 – Bern SC, Swiss-A Switzerland
Sean Backman ’10 – Ontario Reign, AHL
Broc Little ‘11 – Linkopings HC, SweHL Sweden
Denny Kearney ’11 – Bolzano HC- Austria
Brian O’Neill ’12 – Jokerit Helsinki, KHL Finland
Andrew Miller ’13 – Charlotte Checkers, AHL
Antoine Laganiere ’13 – San Diego Gulls, AHL
Kenny Agostino ‘14 – St. Louis Blues, NHL/Chicago Wolves, AHL
Gus Young ’14 – Missouri Mavericks, ECHL
Jeff Malcolm ‘14 – Greenville Swamp Rabbits, ECHL
Jesse Root ’14 – Bolzano HC- Austria
Ryan Obuchowski ’16 – Missouri Mavericks, ECHL
Carson Cooper ’16 – Strasbourg – France
Mitch Witek ’16 – Strasbourg- France
Matthew Beattie ’16 – Strasbourg- France
Rob O’Gara ‘16 – Boston Bruins, NHL/Providence, AHL
Alex Lyon 17 – Philadelphia Flyers, NHL/Lehigh Valley, AHL