Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tracking some alums

Here's where some Yale and Quinnipiac alums are as of today.

NHL
Mark Arcobello (Yale), Edmonton
Chris Higgins (Yale), Vancouver

AHL
Kenny Agostino (Yale), Adirondack
Bryce Van Brabant (Quinnipiac), Adirondack
Brad Mills (Yale), Binghamton
Sean Backman (Yale), Manchester
Brian O'Neill (Yale), Manchester
Antoine Laganiere (Yale), Norfolk
Andrew Miller (Yale), Oklahoma City
Jordan Samuels-Thomas (Quinnipiac), Rochester
Jeremy Langlois (Quinnipiac), Worcester
Gus Young (Yale), Worcester
Jesse Root (Yale), Texas
Mike Dalhuisen (Quinnipiac), Texas


ECHL
Kellen Jones (Quinnipiac), Bakersfield
Connor Jones (Quinnipiac), Bakersfield
Zach Tolkinen (Quinnipiac), Elmira
Jeff Malcolm (Yale), Greenville
Zach Davies (Quinnipiac), Reading
Eric Hartzell (Quinnipiac), Wheeling


EUROPE
Broc Little (Yale), Sweden

Friday, October 17, 2014

Yale opens practice

Yale got official team practice started this afternoon. It was a 90-minute session, and thanks to captain's practices that began in September, the Bulldogs mostly picked up where they left off in March.

A few notes and quotes from today:

** Allain is impressed with the leadership of the veterans, who've helped the five freshman transition well to this point. Fall training is essential, given Ivy League schools are two weeks behind everyone else when it comes to start dates. "For us to be successful, we're going to have to play a great team game," Allain said. "We're trying to establish standards of play and practice habits that will be essential to our team. There are four of us coaches, but at the end of the day it will be those guys coaching each other and pushing each other and making sure they uphold the standards within the group. That's where veteran leaders are extremely important, so they're talking in the room about the things I'm talking about on the ice, or they're talking at dinner about the same things, and that they hold each other accountable."

** Jesse Root and Kenny Agostino are the lone departed forwards, but leave a large void. The two combined for 28 goals last season and have been first-liners dating back to the 2013 championship run. How will Yale fill the holes? Collectively, Allain said. "We've got a numbver of players who've been in our program a number of years who we think are capable and ready to assume an extended role. That'll fall to those guys. And I think the three freshmen forwards will get an opportunity as well to jump right in and be next to a veteran guy and help carry the load."

** John Hayden finished his freshman campaign strong, then impressed at the Chicago Blackhawks developmental camp. He could emerge as one of the league's top power forwards. "What we see more out of him now is a sense of confidence. Instead of being one of the young guys on the team, he'll be a returning veteran who had serious ice time for us last year. His leadership aspects have developed and his confidence is way greater than it was at this time last year. Both of those things should lead to improved performance on the ice."

** Freshmen forwards Ryan Hitchcock, Henry Hart and Johnny Baiocco could all compete for starting jobs right away. Allain says Hitchcock's experience in the USNDP is a huge asset in helping him adjust. "He's a really solid two-way player; he can finish, he can make plays he can play in the defensive zone. He did really well at the U.S. Junior camp. I think he should come in here with a great deal of confidence." Allain also said Hart, who averaged over two points a game last winter at Exeter, is small but crafty. Baiocco "could be the fastest guy on our team," according to Allain, with a hard shot. "For him to play, he has to make sure we see that speed and that shot every time he's on the ice."

** Nate Repensky, the NAHL's defenseman of the year, is fully recovered from the broken leg that ended his Junior year early. He's a full participant in practice, though his rehab time this summer leaves him a bit behind his classmates heading into the season. Adam Larkin, the other freshman forward, has acclimated himself well. Ryan Obuchowski, Tommy Fallen, Rob O'Gara and Mitch Witek are established as the top four. But Allain said "not much" separates the competition between No.'s five through nine on the blueline.

** Interesting note: Yale opens regular season play on Oct. 31 (against Princeton at the Liberty Invitational in Newark). Lake Superior State also plays that night. It will be its ninth game of the year.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Where are they now...

Here's where some Yale and Quinnipiac alums will begin the new season.

NHL
Mark Arcobello (Yale), Edmonton
Chris Higgins (Yale), Vancouver

AHL
Kenny Agostino (Yale), Adirondack
Bryce Van Brabant (Quinnipiac), Adirondack
Brad Mills (Yale), Binghamton
Sean Backman (Yale), Manchester
Brian O'Neill (Yale), Manchester
Antoine Laganiere (Yale), Norfolk
Andrew Miller (Yale), Oklahoma City
Jordan Samuels-Thomas (Quinnipiac), Rochester
Jeremy Langlois (Quinnipiac), Worcester
Gus Young (Yale), Worcester

Rosters not released yet, but Kellen and Connor Jones (Bakersfield), Jesse Root and Mike Dalhuisen (Idaho), Eric Hartzell (Wheeling) and Jeff Malcolm (Greenville) among those in the ECHL.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New season opens Saturday for Quinnipiac

Some news and notes from today's Quinnipiac practice:
  • Players and coaches weren't thrilled with outcome of the Acadia scrimmage, but Rand Pecknold said it would serve as little more than an evaluation tool. Matthew Peca and Michael Garteig didn't dress; Dan Federico only played five shifts. Pecknold said defenseman Alex Barron and freshman Tanner McMaster were Quinnipiac's best two performers, with sophomore forward Tim Clifton also shining.
  • The pace of play from the forwards is down, no surprise considering the Jones twins are gone. It'll take some time to get them up to speed. There's lots of talent in the freshman class, but there's an adjustment period to get down the Bobcats system.Several forwards are in position to pick up slack, including Clifton, Soren Jonzzon, Brayden Sherbinin.
  • Pecknold says the forward lines pairings "are still a work in progress." But Federico and Connor Clifton will be the top defensive line against Bentley on Saturday. Barron will skate with Devon Toews and Justin Agosta with Derek Smith. "We're not sure who's going to be the best partner for Agosta," Pecknold said. "I think Alex can play with both, we just have to figure that out."
  • Agosta, a New Hampshire transfer eligible right away, could be an impact player. But like the other first-year players, he's also adjusting. "He's not a freshman, but he's a new player to our system and UNH plays a completely different style than what we play," Pecknold said. "He's been doing something for four years, now he needs to break those habits and establish his Quinnipiac habits. That will happen. He's coachable and a good kid and will be a really good player for us."
  • Federico has been a defensive leader for some time. As co-captain with Peca, he'll be looked upon to do more off the ice. "For Danny, he's always been a leader as a quiet guy, now he has to be a little more vocal," Pecknold said. "He can't change who he is, but if he's going to wear that 'C' he realized he has to be a bit more vocal. In the end, if we can get him to play the way he did last year, that's more than half the battle as a leader."
  • The addition of UConn to Hockey East will only help Quinnipiac's non-league scheduling. Hockey East teams will now play a 22-game league schedule, same as the ECAC, and down from the 27 it played until Notre Dame joined last year. The Bobcats have nine Hockey East games this season, and have added Boston University starting in 2015-16. Pecknold said he hopes the Terriers will become an annual date on the schedule.
  •  Pecknold said many of the freshmen were battling nerves prior to Acadia. It's not the crowd size that had them on edge -- the building was only about a third of the way to capacity -- it's the systems. There's a lot to digest in a small window of practice time. "It's a lot to digest," Federico said. "Come Saturday, you add in the shock and awe of playing in front of fans." A sellout crowd is expected at High Point Solutions Arena.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Acadia scrimmage to help Quinnipiac sort things out

Stopped by Quinnipiac this morning before practice to chat with Rand Pecknold and Sam Anas. Here's a few notes on the Bobcats, who take on Acadia, a Canadian University in Nova Scotia, in an exhibition Saturday night.

  • Pecknold, like most college coaches who open with a Canadian exhibition, feels he'll have a better read on his personnel after Saturday. "I like using it as an evaluation tool for our young players and our returners who haven't played a lot," Pecknold said. "It's a chance to show me they deserve to be a top nine forward. Put guys in positions to succeed and see how that all plays out. Last years game, a couple of kids struggled and they dropped down the depth chart." 
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  • Senior forward Matthew Peca and junior goalie Michael Garteig won't dress. Pecknold doesn't see the need to play Peca, his top player. He'll still run five lines of forwards and eight defensemen in and out against Acadia. Garteig is firmly established as the No. 1 goalie, so freshman Sean Lawrence and junior Jacob Meyers will share duties.

  • Peca and Sam Anas will begin the year on the same line. Just who lines up at right wing on that line is still up for grabs. Freshman Landon Smith, the MVP of the BCHL, is being considered and will skate with Peca Saturday. "We also have to find balance on the lines," Pecknold said, noting that last October Peter Quenneville skated the first five games with Kellen and Connor Jones, and Anas with Peca before Anas was switched to the Jones' line. "Sam and Peca have played before, so there is chemistry and I think it will work. We just have to wait and play it all out."
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  • College hockey in Canada isn't nearly at the level it is here, but Acadia should be a better test. It's ranked fifth in the Canadian Intrauniversity Sport poll.

  • Size isn't everything. At 150 pounds each, Boston College's Johnny Gaudreau and Anas were the two lightest every day players in the country last season. Gaudreau, now with the Calgary Flames, won the Hobey Baker Award. Anas was named the Tim Taylor Award winner as national rookie of the year. Anas, who Pecknold estimates played the bulk of last season at 145, bulked up to 160 in the offseason after a summer of weights and changes to his nutrition habits. "It's helped my skating a lot," Anas said. "When you're heavier, you're more powerful on the ice.I was glad that I was gaining weight as I was skating in the summer because you always hear of people taking off time, putting on a bunch of muscle and their games has completely changed. It was nice to be able to skate four times a week in the summer and still gain weight."

  • Pecknold would like to see Anas become a more complete player this winter. "He had a great year. The chemistry between he and the twins, it was the perfect complement. I think he's going to have to do more this year. I want to be sure he becomes a better defensive hockey player and we can use him late in the game with a one-goal lead. I think that will happen. He was adequate defensively last year; we need him to be above average. He should make that jump this year, especially if he wants to play pro hockey." Expect to see Anas more in 4-on-4 situations with the Jones' twins gone.
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  • Three of the top five scorers have graduated. Look for Tim Clifton, Tommy Schutt and Soren Jonzzen, all fourth line forwards last year, to increase offense. Defenseman Alex Barron will likely be counted on to kill penalties as a forward, much like Zach Currie a couple of years ago, until another forward establishes himself.
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  • Pecknold raved about the compete-level of practices and cohesiveness in the locker room. It's nothing new for him, but without leaders and workhorses like the Joneses and Cory Hibbeler, and nine freshman and a transfer, he wasn't sure what to expect. "There hasn't been much difference," Anas said. "Everyone has made an effort to be extra vocal and include freshmen in everything. We try not to look at them as freshmen versus returning players, we want to be one group with a family aspect. Obviously, they are freshman and there's a learning curve with everything.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Notes from Quinnipiac Media Day

Quinnipiac put together a fall media day today, bringing in coaches and player's from men's and women's hockey as well as men's and women's basketball. Here's a few men's hockey notes to pass along.

** Matthew Peca, whose NHL rights are owned by the Tampa Bay Lightning, says the dream of winning a national championship is what brings him back to Quinnipiac every year. "Our team has had great opportunities to win the last few years," Peca said. "This is the last kick at the can. We have a team that can win a championship and that's one of the main reasons I'm here, to help our team team win an championship, win our league and go out winners."

** His pro career will begin somewhere in the Lightning system, but Peca says the team has never pressured him into leaving school early. "Based on my conversations with them, it's really been up to me," Peca said. "They're happy with where my development is, and how I'm doing as a player here at school. So really they said it's up to me whenever I'm ready. We haven't talked in much detail as to where I'll be after this season, where I'll end up. They don't hound me, which is good, they kind of just let me play." 

** Quinnipiac is in the process of finalizing a bid to bring the annual Ice Breaker Tournament to High Point Solutions area in October 2016. The annual tournament brings together top teams from four different conferences and marks the traditional start to the college hockey season. Quinnipiac athletic director Jack McDonald said the deadline to submit bids is next month, with a winner picked by Dec. 1. Typically held in larger arenas, often at off-campus sites, High Point Solutions Arena would be one of the smallest venues in the 18-year history of the tournament. Exempted from the NCAA limit of 34 games (meaning participating teams can play the Ice Breaker in addition to its 34-game schedule,) it should attract top teams from Hockey East and the Big 10.

**Tickets will be even harder to come by at Quinnipiac this season. Eric Grgurich, executive director of the TD Bank Sports Center, says the school has sold 1,900 season tickets for this season. That's an increase of 400 from last year, and 700 since the Bobcats reached the 2013 national championship game. Since an additional 1,000 seats are reserved for students, that leaves only around 300 and change for the general public (not including standing room only.) As it stands, only SRO is available for Yale's visit on Feb. 20. Harvard, Cornell and the home-opener against Bentley "are close" to sellouts, according to Grgurich.

** Dan Federico's first NHL developmental camp also provided him a chance to skate with the newest addition to the Bobcats defensive core. Justin Agosta, a transfer from New Hampshire and eligible right away, was also in Montreal for the Canadiens' camp. "He's a dynamic offensive player and a big, tough guy," Federico said. "With (Zach Tolkinen) we lost a big body, but Justin should fit right in."

** Junior goaltender Michael Garteig had the perfect summer. He flew home to British Columbia to be best man in a friend's wedding, spend time with the family and attend his first NHL camp in Vancouver. The experience with the Canucks, he says, was an eye-opener. "It was something that definitely motivated me," Garteig said. "I didn't know what to think when I went in there. I had  nothing to lose as an older guy and a college free agent, but there was a lot to gain and I think I gained a lot. It motivated me to want to play pro hockey in two years, or whenever it might be. I know it's a realistic goal, and knowing it's a realistic goal puts shivers down my spine."

** Sam Anas attended the Washington Capitals camp prior to arriving in Hamden two summers ago, there as an unknown with a local tie (he's from Potomac, Maryland.) A big freshman season -- he was the Division I national rookie of the year -- brought him attention and options. He went to Montreal's camp as a commodity. It changed his mindset, an attitude he says will carry over to his sophomore campaign with the Bobcats, where he is expected to be paired with Peca on the top skating line. Matching offensive numbers aren't as important to him as becoming a better all-around player and leader. "I enjoy that responsibiluty. Most teams I've returned to, I've been a captain, I've been a leader. I like that role. As a freshman, you're worried about other things. Now, I think some guys look up to me and I want to set a good example on and off the ice."

** Half-practices began Monday, not enough time to judge much, Pecknold said. But he tossed around a few plans for his personnel, which will include Peca and Anas on the same line to begin the season. "We just need a wing," Pecknold said. He also mentioned moving Travis St. Denis to center and keeping the brother combinations together. Jonah and Nathan Renouf, the newest set of identical twins, join Canon and Bo Pieper, separated by a calendar year.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Yale's Gus Young still waiting on Avs

Yale senior defenseman Gus Young remains unsigned by the Colorado Avalanche, the team that drafted him five years ago. With the August 15 deadline rapidly approaching, it appears he'll hit the free agent market.

New management, led by coach and VP of operations Patrick Roy, have taken control of the team since the Avs took Young in the seventh round out of Noble and Greenough Prep School. Roy doesn't seem particularly interested in signing most of the college players selected by the previous regime. Several sources have said Young will receive plenty of interest if he hits the free agent market next month.

Young, a 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, was a steady and physical presence on Yale's blue line his final three seasons, most notably on the Bulldogs national championship team. Last winter he elevated his offensive game to register career highs of seven goals and 11 assists.