Thursday, October 27, 2011

Opening weekend for Yale

Yale will get started this weekend with the fifth annual Ivy Shootout, a tournament that is likely in its final season -- at least in the current format. Here are a few notes from my sit-down with Keith Allain and Brian O'Neill today.
  • Senior defenseman Kevin Peel (foot) is out for this weekend, and will be on the shelf for a while longer. It hurts not only because Peel is one of the team's best, but there are only six healthy defensemen on the roster. Freshman Adam Thompson left the team last month for personal medical reasons, and will not be returning to Yale. Walk-on freshman Alex Ward is playing D during practices to help. There will be three freshmen in the lineup this weekend, and they must grow up in a hurry.

  • Similar to last season, Allain will let the goaltending situation sort itself out. Juniors Nick Maricic and Jeff Malcolm will make the trip to Dartmouth, with freshman Connor Wilson home for this one.

  • Losing nine seniors, all of whom had integral roles, could leave the Bulldogs with a bit of an identity crisis in the early season. Allain and the current seniors have spent a good portion of the last two weeks getting the newer guys up to speed. "It's a lot more teaching this year," Allain said. "Nine players is essentially a third of your hockey team. And they were nine four-year players, so guys that were ingrained in how we do things. But change can be good as well. I expect us to be better a month from now than we are now. It's going to take time. That's just the way it is."

  • This weekend should give a better indication of where Yale is than last Saturday's exhibition loss to Waterloo. Allain did a lot of experimentation, sat some top players for the final two periods and used all three goalies. He said the intensity in practice has been good, but admitted the Bulldogs are still being broken in.

  • The late start (Oct. 15 first practice) is a big reason the Ivy Shootout came about, allowing Yale, Brown, Princeton and Dartmouth to open the regular season against competition that's all in the same boat. But the current format will likely end this year because it gives each team a home weekend once every four years. Allain said the four will still play each other in some format the first weekend, but it could be held at two sites each season. Plans are still being discussed.

  • Yale has actually fared well against non-league competition on opening weekend prior to the inaugural Ivy Shootout in 2007 -- and with team's much less talented than the Bulldogs enjoy now. In 2006 Yale beat Holy Cross and New Hampshire; in 2001 it opened by beating No. 3 New Hampshire and No. 1 Boston College and in 2000 it beat No. 5 New Hampshire three days after a 3-2 loss at Michigan. Of course, they took some beatings, too. North Dakota combined to win 18-4 in a two-game sweep in 2003, and losses to Alabama-Huntsville and St. Cloud State (a 10-0 game at Yale) were embarrassing. But now that Yale is a perennial NCAA contender, it's not worth the risk to open outside the Ivy, Allain said.

  • The goals haven't changed at all, O'Neill said. Yale is still looking to reach the Frozen Four and win a national title despite losing so much talent. It's still a realistic goal, O'Neill said. "Anything less would be a disappointment to us," he said. "The only thing left for us to accomplish as seniors is to win a national championship. Programs like North Dakota and Miami have experienced the same kind of turnover, where they're losing players to the pros or having a large senior class that's been effective. We have a lot of turnover, but we brought in a lot of guys that are ready to go right away. We also have a lot of depth from last year that wasn't quite exposed enough, they didn't get the opportunity last year. Now, they have the opportunity. I think you're going to see a couple of stars you might not have thought would be stars."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bulldogs at 10, Bobcats at 20

We knew it might be a pretty good year for hockey in Greater New Haven. Yale lost a ton of talent, but returns quite a bit as well. Quinnipiac lost almost nothing, brought in a couple of top-notch recruits, and gets a year of experience under the belts of young players like the Jones twins.

The latest poll has Yale at No. 10 and Quinnipiac breaking in at No. 20.

And just to be clear, Yale's lone first-place vote didn't come from me. I voted Colorado College first and the Bulldogs sixth.

Quinnipiac will add SNY to its TV network

Quinnipiac will soon announce its television package for this fall/winter, and it will include a deal to broadcast basketball and hockey games on SNY, the Register has learned. Specifics will be announced in two weeks, but it's expected that between two and four men's hockey games will be televised live on the network. Game replays and "Bobcats Unleashed", the in-house Quinnipiac athletics showcase program, could also be part of the deal.

It significant for Quinnipiac. SNY, which last year signed a multi-year deal with UConn, reaches roughly 20 million homes, including the New York/New Jersey and Philadelphia markets. Quinnipiac is also working to extend its relationship with NESN, which has broadcast a handful of Bobcat games each season. That would give the school a presence in Boston, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quinnipiac wins home opener

Qunnipiac opened its home schedule tonight with a 5-3 win over Holy Cross. A couple of quick notes:
  • Yuri Bouharevich missed his third straight game with an injury, but Rand Pecknold hopes he'll be back by this weekend. Mike Dalhuisen was a healthy scratch.

  • Quinnipiac started slow, and that may have been due to the midweek game coming just a few days after flying home from a two-game set at Ohio State. Pecknold said he doesn't want to set up the schedule like that, but sometimes there's no other choice. The Bobcats should get used to is. Canisius is here Saturday and Sunday, and Bentley comes in Tuesday for three games in four days. At least there's no air travel involved.

  • A year ago, with a lineup dominated by freshmen and sophomores, Pecknold said his team might have panicked after blowing a two-goal lead. That didn't happen tonight, as Quinnipiac quickly tied it before putting it away in the third period. "It's only three games, it's a little early to jump the gun and say we are more mature. But I have seen some signs that they are more emotionally mature this year," Pecknold said. "There was no panic on the bench."

  • Dan Clarke's first outing was OK. He came up with some huge saves, including on the breakaway with the game still tied at 3-3. "It was a tough game for a goaltender, I think we hung him out to dry a couple of situations," Pecknold said. "We gave up some chances that shouldn't happen, the power play goal we misread the play, didn't have our guys collapse. We have to be there to pick up the stick. Again, he found a way to win and handled the puck pretty well, which was nice."

  • Matthew Peca has a bright future. Pecknold said he may have been a little mentally and physically tired after the Ohio State weekend, where he played well. But the talent is evident. "It's a lot for an 18-year old to handle what he's gone through," Pecknold said. "He's going to be a great player for us."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hockey season starts tonight

Quinnipiac opens the season tonight at Ohio State, the first of a two-game set. Here's the link to my story in today's Register, which details how the Bobcats have benefited, at least in the short term, each time they have opened the season against a major conference team from the West.

Yale's first practice is a week from today (Oct. 15) at 6 p.m. A couple players deleted from the roster: Jesse Hudkins, who battled injuries his whole career at Yale. Also, freshman defenseman Adam Thompson, who left for personal medical reasons. It's unclear whether he'll return to Yale. But he won't be here this season.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

CBS College Sports will be at Ingalls Nov. 4

CBS College Sports released its college hockey coverage schedule for the upcoming season, and it includes a date at Yale on Nov. 4 against Cornell. Here's the full schedule.



Oct. 14 (Fri) Denver at Boston College 7:30 PM

Kelley Rink (Conte Forum), Chestnut Hill , Mass.

Nov. 4 (Fri) Cornell at Yale 7:30 PM

Ingalls Rink, New Haven , Conn.

Nov. 13 (Sun) Boston University at Boston College 4:00 PM

Kelley Rink (Conte Forum), Chestnut Hill , Mass.

Nov. 18 (Fri) Boston College at Notre 7:30 PM

Compton Family Center , Notre Dame, Ind.

Dec. 2 (Fri) Boston University at Boston College 7:30 PM

Kelley Rink (Conte Forum), Chestnut Hill , Mass.

Denver at Colorado College 10:00 PM

World Arena, Colorado Springs , Colo.

Dec. 10 (Fri) Boston University at Maine 7:30 PM

Harold Alfond Sports Arena, Orono , Maine

Jan. 6 (Fri) Minnesota Duluth at Western Michigan 7:30 PM

Lawson Arena, Kalamazoo , Mich.

Jan. 13 (Fri) Western Michigan at Notre Dame 7:30 PM

Compton Family Center , Notre Dame, Ind.

Jan. 20 (Fri) Air Force at Army 7:30 PM

Tate Rink, West Point , N.Y.

Jan. 21 (Sat) Michigan at Notre Dame 7:30 PM

Compton Family Center , Notre Dame, Ind.

Jan. 27 (Fri) Colgate at Cornell 7:30 PM

Lynah Rink, Ithaca , N.Y.

Jan. 28 (Sat) Maine at Boston University 7:30 PM

Jack Parker Rink (Agganis Arena), Boston , Mass.

Feb. 3 (Fri) Providence at UNH 7:30 PM

Towse Rink ( Whittemore Center ), Durham , N.H.

RIT at Air Force 10:00 PM

Cadet Ice Arena, Colorado Springs , Colo.

Feb. 4 (Sat) Miami at Michigan 7:30 PM

Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor , Mich.

Feb. 10 (Fri) North Dakota at Minnesota Duluth 8:00 PM

AMSOIL Arena, Duluth , Minn.

Feb. 17 (Fri) Notre Dame at Miami 7:30 PM

Goggin Ice Center , Oxford , Ohio

Nebraska Omaha at Colorado College 10:00 PM

World Arena, Colorado Springs , Colo.

Feb. 24 (Fri) Ohio State at Miami 6:00 PM

Goggin Ice Center , Oxford , Ohio

Michigan State at Notre Dame 8:30 PM

Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, Ind.

March 2 (Fri) Vermont at Boston College 7:30 PM

Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill , Mass.

March 3 (Sat.) Vermont at Boston College 7:00PM

Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill , MA

Monday, October 3, 2011

Quinnipiac: Nauta turns pro, Valiquette to coach

Quinnipiac recruit John Nauta, a 6-foot-6, 244-pound goalie, has turned pro. He recently signed with Reading of the ECHL. Nauta played six games in the Quebec Major Junior League, and Quinnipiac thought it would cost him a year of college eligibility. But the NCAA ruled that Nauta would have to sit two full seasons, and 16 more games of a third. Since that scenario made little sense to either side, Nauta, who was attending classes and intending to practice with Quinnipiac, decided to sign a pro contract.

Dan Clarke and Eric Hartzell will share goalie duties this season. Former student manager Jake Whiting is the third goalie. Michael Gartieg, who could have enrolled this fall, has put off school another year to put some separation between himself and Hartzell (Hartzell will be a senior next year, Gartieg a freshman).

Clarke and Hartzell will benefit from the recent hiring of former New York Rangers goalie Steve Valiquette as part-time goaltending coach. Valiquette replaces Justin Eddy, who couldn't continue due to a change at his full-time job. Valiquette has been living in Orange since his days with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He toyed with playing in Europe this season, but coach Rand Pecknold said that changed after the crash of the KHL team jet in Russia last month. Valiquette spent the 2005-06 season with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, the same team in the crash. Pecknold said Valiquette had some AHL coaching offers, but wanted to remain in the area for now, and get his feet wet as a coach. Valiquette likely won't be in Hamden too long, but Pecknold says no matter how long he's in town, Quinnipiac will greatly benefit from his expertise.