Thursday, April 4, 2013

Keith Allain's vision for Yale hockey now a reality

Yale had its media session today at the Schley Room inside Ingalls Rink. If you've never been inside, it's a cavernous room decked out wall-to-wall, up and down, with old Yale team photos and memorabilia dating back to the 1890s. It's 117 years of Yale hockey right there in black-and-white.

As coach Keith Allain and captain Andrew Miller answered questions about the team's upcoming trip to the Frozen Four, it wasn't hard to get swept up in the moment. Only twice since that first game in 1896 has a Yale hockey team been one of the last four teams in American still playing. The 1952 team and this one. Hundreds of Yale men have come through New Haven and played hockey, most moving on to become captains of industry, some playing in the NHL, one even running for President of the United States. A handful can say they've gotten this far. There's not much on this Earth that hasn't already been achieved by Yale graduates. Miller and his teammates have that opportunity.

The 1952 team, coached by original New York Ranger Murray Murdoch, went to a four-team tournament in Colorado Springs and lost, 4-3, to Colorado College. It came back a day later to beat St. Lawrence in the consolation game, the first NCAA win in team history (though the first NCAA win that meant something didn't come until 2010, when the Bulldogs beat North Dakota.)

Allain said by the time he returned to the locker room and looked at his phone after Yale beat the Fighting Sioux in Grand Rapids on Saturday, he already had 56 text messages awaiting. The number of texts, emails and phone calls of congratulations is well into the hundreds, he said. That includes well-wishers Larry Noble Jr. and Harry Havemeyer, members of Yale's 1952 team.

Allain has done wonders since arriving at Yale, needing just three years to reach the NCAA tournament for only the third time in school history. This season will make it four times in the last five years. This was his goal when he got here back in 2006.

Here's a quote that says it all.

"My vision was to have a program that had sustained excellence," Allain said. "I truly thought that at Yale you could have the best of both worlds. The best education in the world and compete in hockey at the highest levels there is in college hockey. And I wanted to do it on a regular basis. I didn't want to have a good year then four or five lean years. Our mission is to consistently compete for championships. I feel like we're doing that. Now we want to win a championship. We want to win the big one. I'm pleased with where the program in now and the people we have coming through our program."


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