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Defending NCAA champion Yale set for MSG matchup

by Tal Pinchevsky

Yale went from tournament upstart to NCAA champions last spring, upsetting top-seeded Quinnipiac in the final of the Frozen Four to win the first national title in school history.

As defending champions, the Bulldogs have spent the season in the spotlight, one that will intensify Saturday night when they face archrival Harvard at Madison Square Garden in a matchup that will be aired nationally on NBCSN.

Coach Keith Allain sees the visit to the Garden as a unique opportunity for his players.

"We like to provide our guys with different experiences and the opportunity to play in New York City in Madison Square Garden, hopefully in front of a packed building," Allain said. "That's something that they'll remember. It allows our alums to get together. Most importantly, it should be a special experience for our guys."

The Bulldogs have had some struggles in the early going this season; they are 7-3-4 overall and 3-2-3 in the ECAC. Yale has gotten a boost from senior forward Kenny Agostino, who was part of the package that the Pittsburgh Penguins sent to the Calgary Flames last March in the Jarome Iginla trade. Agostino, a New Jersey native, has five goals in Yale's past four games, a stretch in which the Bulldogs have two wins and two ties.

"We think we're playing well, we think we're rolling," senior defenseman and Colorado Avalanche draft pick Gus Young said. "This game [at MSG] should help us into the next half of the season."

Allain is pointing his team toward a chance to defend its title.

"I like this team. I think that we're doing a lot of things well. We're not doing them all well at the same time or for 60 minutes. But this season is about growth and taking things one step at a time," Allain said. "I think we are getting better. I think we're just scratching the surface as to what we can do."

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