Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yale drops another

A quick post-game recap from RPI's 2-1 victory over Yale Saturday.
  • Bryce Merriam was in the zone, turning away 19 in the second period and 19 much more difficult attempts in the third for 45 saves. Yale threw everything it had over the final few minutes, including on the 6-on-5, and Merriam was there each time. When he wasn't, shots either hit the post or were swiped from the open net by RPI skaters. Yale also misfired a few times from in close -- including Kevin Limbert on what wound up being the lone shot to beat Merriam. "Bryce did what you want your veteran, number one goalie to do,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “The third period, they had a lot of really good looks and he came up big. It’s kind of funny the one they were able to beat him on was a fanned broken stick. That shows you how in the zone Bryce was tonight.”
  • Merriam was hit by Yale's Clinton Bourbonais late in the second period, banging his arm into the post. (Bourbonais was penalized on the play). Merriam was in pain, bent over and holding his arm before skating to the bench. "It was only a Charley Horse," Merriam said. "It was painful, but it went away and I was fine."
  • Yale coach Keith Allain was happy with the way his team played, knowing Merriam was the difference. "He stole the game, let's face it," Allain said.
  • The Bulldogs generated offense from all four lines, resembling the Yale teams of the past three seasons for the first time in a while. Limbert played his best game, while the line of Kenny Agostino, Andrew Miller and Brian O'Neill accounted for 13 shots on goal. "We had (46) shots," Allain said. "That's usually enough."
  • The one fault Allain pointed out was his team's power play, which not only went 0-for-5 but seemed out of sync most of the night.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yale can't get on track

Keith Allain was happy with his team's effort despite a one-point weekend in the North Country, and was thrilled with what he saw from Yale in practice this week. But something was lost in translation between Thursday and Friday. The Bulldogs appeared out of synch most of the evening in a 3-1 loss to Union.

A few quick notes:
  • Allain said he sat Jeff Malcolm Friday partly because he felt change might be good and partly because Nick Maricic had earned the chance to play. After a shaky start, Maricic was good enough the rest of the game in making 33 saves -- though he had trouble controlling rebounds.
  • Allain pulled Maricic for Malcolm shortly after he allowed the second goal of the first period. He used the opportunity to light a fire under Maricic, yelling at his goalie on the bench, before sending him back into the game 46 seconds later. "You only get one time out a game," Allain said, before catching himself and flashing a smirk. "And he had an equipment issue."
  • Yale had an extended, closed-door team meeting that lasted a good half-hour. Players are usually made available quickly after a game, but, under deadline, I couldn't wait and headed back up to the press box to work. Brian O'Neill finally came up to the box to talk with me around 10 p.m.
  • O'Neill said the team knows what needs to be done; it's just a matter of going out and doing it. "Everyone has to look in the mirror and bring it every night," O'Neill said. "I don’t think enough of us showed up tonight. When you play a top 15 team, you’re not going to win too many games if you don’t have your best players going.”
  • As to the great week of practice that led into Friday, O'Neill agreed the team was on the same page until somewhere in the second period when things came unglued. "The lapse in the second period really switched momentum,” O’Neill said. “They’re a good team. I can’t put my finger on why we weren’t as good as we should have been tonight. We just have to bring more to the table every night.”
  • Allain, who said Yale "lost its way in the second wasn't a step forward, that's for sure", pointed to indecision in the Union zone as the root of the Bulldogs problems (though he did credit Union and goalie Troy Grosenick, too). "We weren't shooting the puck, we were looking for plays that weren't there," Allain said. "As a result, they were blocking shots. We weren't generating any offense because we were unwilling to shoot the puck when we had the opportunity."
  • A puck split in half in the first period. I've never seen that happen in a game before.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yale senior Dan Otto out for season

Yale senior forward Dan Otto's hockey career is over. He suffered a concussion in the Bulldogs' Dec. 7 game at UMass, and has been suffering from post concussion syndrome. Otto's condition forced him to withdraw from school for the semester because he has been unable to concentrate in classes or focus on schoolwork.

He will remain in New Haven, where he is receiving treatment, with the intent of returning to school to complete the remaining handful of credits he needs for his degree in September. Otto, one of the hockey team's top students, made the decision just before classes began earlier this month.

Otto's return to hockey after a four-year layoff was inspiring. He's endured three surgeries (two failed) for a sports hernia suffered during his final season of Junior hockey. There were further complications due to an excess of scar tissue. For two full years, he drove from New Haven to Boston to see a specialist once a week. He was finally healthy enough to begin practicing last December, though he didn't play in any games, and cracked Yale's starting lineup in the preseason.

Otto scored two goals in a win at Union in November, which represent his lone collegiate points.

"We're all grateful he was able to be a regular player for us in the first half of the season, and he was able to score a couple of goals in a Yale uniform," Yale coach Keith Allain said. "He'll always have that. When you consider the time and effort he put in to having that opportunity, we were glad he was able to fill that dream."

Since he's not enrolled at Yale, Otto has a semester's worth of eligibility remaining. But, Allain said, the injury is serious enough that he will not play again.

"It's tough for our team, and him," Yale junior forward Andrew Miller said. "He was such a big part of our team at the beginning of the season. He was a great attribute to our team, he was so hard-working, it's tough to lose a guy like that who's done so much to get back."

Yale coach Keith Allain reprimanded

Yale coach Keith Allain wasn't pleased with the officiating during his team's 5-4 overtime loss at Clarkson on Sunday. The Bulldogs were issued a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct in overtime that set up the game-winner, while Allain and senior Charles Brockett received 10-minute game misconducts after the game. A league press release issued on Thursday suggested Allain used abusive language directed at the referees, and resulted in a written reprimand from the ECAC.

A letter was sent by the league to Allain and to Yale's athletic administration, according to Steve Hagwell, the commissioner of the ECAC. Hagwell declined to get into specifics of the letter. He said the decision was made Wednesday, but, due to a related issue, not released until today.

Coaches in the league have received suspensions for their conduct in the past, most recently a one-game ban to RPI coach Seth Appert in November 2010 for reviewing video of a disputed call with media after a game.

Hagwell said he decided a reprimand was appropriate in this case "based on the information I received, both written and verbal". He said he discussed the incident with Paul Stewart, the league's director of officials, and compared it with past instances where suspensions were issued.

"After long and careful consideration, I felt a reprimand was the more appropriate response," Hagwell said.

Allain said Thursday he didn't agree with the league's course of action.

"Obviously, I think we have a difference of opinion with the league on that," Allain said. "I feel, given what we had to endure in that hockey game, I showed an incredible amount of restraint after the game."

Here's the official league release:

ALBANY, N.Y. -- ECAC Hockey has issued a written reprimand to Yale University Head Coach Keith Allain for his conduct after the Yale at Clarkson contest Sunday, January 15.

The reprimand was issued by the League staff upon review of Coach Allain’s postgame actions directed to the on-ice officials after Clarkson’s 5-4 overtime victory. It is in accordance with ECAC Hockey policies that prohibit “Coaches, student-athletes and institutional personnel from using abusive language or inappropriate conduct toward officials before, during or after a
contest whether in public or private.”

Friday, January 13, 2012

Yale's game at Clarkson postponed

A winter storm in New York's North Country has postponed the Yale men's hockey team's game at Clarkson on Friday night. The game will be made up on Sunday afternoon at 4.

Freezing rain caused power outages in the upstate New York town of Potsdam, N.Y. on Thursday, while snow, heavy wind and Arctic temperatures hit the region Friday. Yale's game at St. Lawrence, located just a few miles from Clarkson, is still scheduled for Saturday night at 7 -- when overnight temperatures are forecast to hit 14 degrees below zero.

St. Lawrence also postponed its Friday night men's hockey game with Brown until Sunday.

Yale had arrived in Potsdam on Thursday, but got word Friday afternoon that the storm forced the school to shut down for the remainder of the day.

It must be pretty miserable up there for games to be postponed. The North Country is used to heavy snow and ungodly temperatures. I recall traveling up there for a Yale series a few years back: the Friday night game at St. Lawrence went off with no problem, but a storm came in Saturday afternoon that dumped a good 12 inches of snow on the area. But, the game went on as scheduled.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Quinnipiac knocks off Yale, some notes

A few quick notes to wrap up tonight's 2-1 victory for Quinnipiac over Yale.

  • Quinnipiac played without John Dunbar, who abruptly left school on Monday, as well as forward Russell Goodman, who served a one-game suspension for his game disqualification at Nebraska-Omaha. And Yuri Bouharevich was a late scratch when he came up ill Friday afternoon. Coach Rand Pecknold said Bouharevich's status for Saturday's game at Brown is unknown, though Goodman will be back in the lineup. On Dunbar, Pecknold wouldn't get into details but said he was surprised and wished him well.
  • The loss of John Dunbar now eliminates the "Dances With Wolves" references I so enjoyed during his brief tenure.
  • Yale is without Dan Otto (upper body injury), expected to miss Saturday's game with Princeton too. Jesse Root was out of the lineup, replaced by Josh Balch, coming off an injury himself.
  • Eric Hartzell has allowed two goals or fewer in nine of his last 11 starts. His teammates made it easier for him Friday, blocking 23 shots.
  • Yale coach Keith Allain was concerned with his team's misfires. Aside from the 23 shots blocked by the defense, Yale also missed the net on 19 other chances (two off the post). "It's hard to score goals when your shot execution is like that," Allain said.
  • Quinnipiac's last win at Ingalls Rink was a 3-0 victory on Jan. 25, 2008 -- the year before the current senior classes arrived at their respective schools.
  • Kevin Bui had no career goals through nearly three years at Quinnipiac. He now has two in his last three games with his deflection on Friday.
  • Typical hard-hitting game. Brian O'Neill blasted Connor Jones near the end of the second, and Jones seemed woozy leaving the ice. He returned, and is expected to be fine.
  • Brian O'Neill has five goals in Yale's last two games. The line of O'Neill, Andrew Miller and Kenny Agostino was by far the most effective for the Bulldogs.

John Dunbar leaves Quinnipiac

Quinnipiac sophomore forward John Dunbar left the team earlier this week, and joined the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Dunbar, who made the Bobcats trip to Nebraska-Omaha last week and played in one of two games, walked into coach Rand Pecknold's office Monday and informed him of his decision. Pecknold, through Quinnipiac sports information director Ken Sweeten, said Dunbar left for "unspecified reasons".

The decision came as a surprise to Pecknold and everyone else in the Quinnipiac locker room. Dunbar was an exceptional student, well-liked and showed outstanding worth ethic in practice that translated to his performance in games. He was described as a great kid who had an outstanding relationship with just about everybody he came in contact with at Quinnipiac.

He had six points in 21 games this season after playing in 30 games as a freshman. Dunbar played in the AJHL prior to enrolling at Quinnipiac, practiced with Fort McMurray on Thursday and was scheduled to play tonight.