Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Northeast #3: Yale

Yale University Bulldogs

#3 seed vs. North Dakota, Northeast Regional (DCU Centre, Worcester, MA)

At-Large Berth from ECAC

Record: 20-9-3

Coach: Keith Allain

We're back! The Bulldogs of Yale return to the tournament for a second straight year, leading to much Boola Boolaing among the blue-clad old guard. Their loss to an upstart Brown team in the ECAC quarters has given the Elis two weeks off to prep for a matchup against arguably the hottest team in the nation in North Dakota. Yale will be looking for a better outing than last year, when as hosts in Bridgeport, they were felled by Vermont in the opening round.

Yale's biggest headline this year is probably one that they would prefer you didn't know about, losing 21 goal scorer Sean Backman to a foot injury, later confirmed to be an injured heel in an unauthorized after-hours incident at a school pool. (You may feel free to be judgmental about horseplay and think "I told you so" here as you are reminded of former Michigan goalie Josh Blackburn's injury that occurred in the 2001-02 season when he "slipped on a buckeye nut while moving a refrigerator.") The Brown series was the Elis first without Backman and it will be interesting to see how Coach Allain utilizes his third line, considered a hidden strength by observers on campus, to get the scoring punch he'll need.

Coach Allain will be returning home to his native Worcester for the regional and look for the Bulldogs to go against the blue-blood stereotypes of Yale, instead playing a blue collar style that will feature active sticks, muddled passing lanes for opponents, and solid back checking. This time of year, that might be just the trick to upsetting the Sioux.

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