Yale's John Hayden, Keith Allain talk World Junior Championships
"I think he’s got a really good chance," Allain said. "They’ve got a role for him, and they understand what he’s going to be, and they know him as a player really well."
Hayden didn't make the preliminary roster last December after being invited to the team's summer training camp. He's determined to make the final roster.
"This has been a goal of mine a long time, to make this team," Hayden said. "Summer camp went well, I had good chemistry with those guys, and I'm looking forward to Boston. Hearing my name is on that roster is very special to me. I want to prove I belong on that team."
Allain has coached in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Olympics, the IIHF World Championships, the World Cup of Hockey and the NCAA playoffs. He says none compare to the World Junior Championships, which he calls the "greatest hockey tournament in the world." That the event is essentially a week-long national holiday in Canada only adds to the atmosphere. And Allain is every bit as excited as Hayden at the opportunity to play in front of sold-out crowds in the NHL arenas of Montreal and Toronto, if that's possible.
"I'd like nothing more for him than to have that experience. I was thrilled Dan Muse was an assistant the last two teams. I talked to him before the first year, and I said I can’t describe it to you, but I’m telling you…because you're immersed in it and you’re with this group of 30 people and you become a family in like two days and you’re doing everything together and everything is about the tournament and the team and its just really unique."
A few other notes from Yale as it prepares for RPI on Friday and Union on Saturday, a meeting of the past two NCAA champions.
** Scoring goals hasn't been an issue since Allain took over at Yale. So the 2.11 goals-per game through nine games is concerning. Allain feels the Bulldogs are vastly improved since a flat loss to St. Lawrence on Nov. 15. "I think, really, from my perspective, if we field passes a little cleaner that'll give us the split second we need to get a better shot off. I just think our precision passing is getting better but its not as good as it needs to be to score goals."
** Scoring is down across the ECAC. Yale, at 2.11 goals-per game, is scoring less than it did during a 5-25-2 season of 2004-05 (2.19). Still, it ranks sixth in the league in scoring offense, better than Cornell, Clarkson, RPI, Princeton, Brown, all under two goals-per game. "I think our record right now, you can't be upset with how we're doing," Yale forward Carson Cooper said. "You always want to be doing better, you want to score more. But the way our defense is coming around, that's something to be proud of. Hopefully we can get the scoring coming, but we have been scoring and winning games."
** Indeed, team defense and goaltending is as strong as ever. The start to Alex Lyon's sophomore campaign has been brilliant. Patrick Spano, in his first start of the season, shut out RIT. Having multiple, extremely capable goaltenders presents some challenges. "Making sure everyone feels valuable and are contributing to the team," Allain said. "And keeping guys fresh so when you need them they are able to perform. Those are challenges. But the benefits certainly outweigh any challenges it may present."
** The main challenges for Yale have been dealing with injuries. Anthony Day, Nico Weberg and Tim Bonner have missed multiple games. Allain doesn't get into specifics, but acknowledged there are a couple of players who won't be back any time soon. Dealing with adversity is part of the game. "Everyone has to deal with stuff, and that's why we don't talk about it much," Allain said. "Whether it's guys banged up or the ref makes a bad call or our goalie lets in a bad goal. Whatever the situation may be, that's the way it's supposed to be. Figure it out."