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.


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