Yale, Dartmouth look to make playoff push

by Michael Blinn / NHL.com
Yale (10-13-1) vs. Dartmouth (9-14-4)
Friday Feb.17, 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network


Yale: The Bulldogs opened the season strong, taking home the title at the Ivy Shootout to open things up, and an early four-game win streak made it look like business as usual for Yale. However, the ECAC has been unusually strong from top to bottom, and the Bulldogs have had trouble adapting. They've dropped back-to-back games four times this season, including four straight losses in mid-January, and find themselves mired in a tie for eighth place with Dartmouth. With four games remaining -- three against teams they've already beaten, including the Big Green, Princeton, and Quinnipiac -- they can still climb as high as third, but their work is cut out for them. If they can rediscover the form that saw them take down Union and Colgate amidst their early winning ways, the final stretch could set the Bulldogs up for a run.

NCAA Hockey on NBC Sports Network

  • Dartmouth @ Yale, Feb. 17, 7:00 PM
  • Boston U @ Vermont, Feb. 24, 7:00 PM
  • North Dakota @ Denver, Feb. 24, 7:30 PM
  • Denver @ Neb-Omaha, Mar. 2, 7:30 PM
Dartmouth: It's been a Big Green roller coaster ride this season. Things started off with a promising second-place finish to Yale at the Ivy Shootout, followed by two more wins over Princeton and Cornell, but ever since the team has been struggling for consistency. They've strung together back-to-back wins three times, but have also gone winless in at least two straight four times -- including a current six-game cold streak. With an ECAC playoff berth in its grasp, Dartmouth can still climb in the standings, especially with half of its remaining games against teams they've beaten in Brown and St. Lawrence. A big showing against Yale would be a step in the right direction.


For the fourth straight year, senior Brian O'Neill (17 goals, 30 points) sits atop Yale's leaderboard and among the national leaders in goals and points, despite playing in the ECAC, which starts later and plays fewer games than other leagues. A big reason for the diminutive forward's continued success this season is junior forward Andrew Miller (5 goals, 27 points), who has combined with O'Neill on the same goal 21 times so far. Second-year forward Kenny Agostino (10 goals, 23 points) has picked up his play in 2012, racking up 6 goals and 13 points in 13 games, while junior Antoine Laganiere (9 goals, 21 points) has put up career highs across the board for the Bulldogs. Freshman Tommy Fallen has developed quickly in his first season on the Yale blue line, leading defensemen in scoring. In his first season as a starter, Jeff Malcolm (9-11-2, 2.70 goals-against average) has been as consistent as they come, allowing three goals or less in 18 of his 23 games, including three consecutive shutouts in November.

The Dartmouth net has not been so lucky, with three different goalies taking their lumps in recent weeks. Senior James Mello (5-7-1, 3.15 GAA) has been the closest thing to an incumbent this season, though senior Jody O'Neill (1-3-2, 2.57 GAA) and sophomore Cab Morris (3-2-1, 3.10 GAA) have eaten into his playing time over the past few weeks. The difficulties have extended to the offense, which has slowed down over the past few games. Sophomores Eric Robinson (10 goals, 17 points) and Matt Lindblad (3 goals, 17 points), along with freshman Tyler Sikura (9 goals, 17 points) and senior Doug Jones (7 goals, 17 points) are in a four-way tie for the Big Green scoring lead, though they've combined for 1 goal and 4 assists over their last four games. Having junior Dustin Walsh (3 goals, 10 points) sidelined with a hip injury for the second time this season has put a definite damper on things. Freshman Brandon McNally (6 goals, 12 points) has been a bright spot, however, tallying both of Dartmouth's goals in its last two losses, and he has the ability to inject some offensive spark heading into playoff time.

Leaders: Yale Bulldogs Leaders: Dartmouth Big Green
Brian O'Neill - 25GP-17G-13A-30Pts Eric Robinson - 25GP-10G-7A-17Pts
Andrew Miller - 24GP-5G-22A-27Pts Tyler Sikura - 15GP-9G-8A-17Pts
Kenny Agostino - 23GP-10G-13A-23Pts Doug Jones - 23GP-7G-10A-17Pts
Antoine Laganiere - 25GP-9G-12A-21Pts Matt Lindblad - 20GP-3A-14A-17PTs
Tommy Fallen - 25GP-4G-13A-17Pts Jody O'Neill - 1-3-2, 2.57 GAA, .917 SV%
Jeff Malcolm - 9-11-2, 2.70 GAA, .911 SV% James Mello - 5-7-1, 3.15 GAA, .893 SV%

Yale Bulldogs Dartmouth Big Green
Coach: Keith Allain (110-69-15) Coach: Bob Gaudet (308-352-85)
Record: 10-13-1 (7-10-1 ECAC) Record: 9-14-4 (6-9-3 ECAC)
22.3% PP (9th in NCAA) / 86.5% PK (4th in NCAA) 13.4% PP (49th in NCAA) / 73.5% PK (53rd in NCAA)
Drafted: Gus Young (COL), Kenny Agostino (PIT), Brad Peltz (OTT) Drafted: Mark Goggin (BOS), Troy Mattila (NYI), Dustin Walsh (MTL)
2012 NHL Draft Watch List: Matt Killian (C Skaters) 2012 Draft Watch List: Brandon McNally (C Skater)


"I think I'm a pretty good playmaker, and I protect the puck pretty well. A lot of my goals came when I was playing with Andrew Miller and Brian O'Neill. Those two are so good together, and they make the game a lot easier for me.." -- Penguins prospect and Yale sophomore Kenny Agostino on what makes him a successful player.

"I model my game after Joe Thornton of the Sharks because he is a big strong player who makes things happen all over the ice. He is exciting to watch because he can score, but also knows where everyone is on the ice so he is able to make that pretty pass to set up a goal." -- Dartmouth freshman and 2012 NHL Draft prospect Brandon McNally to McKeen's on his playing style.


NHL connections: Bulldogs forward Tommy Fallen's grandfather, James, played hockey for the Cleveland Barons in the 1950s. Dartmouth's Nick Lovejoy is the younger brother of Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy, and Dan Nycholat's brother, Lawrence Nycholat, plays for the AHL's Hershey Bears. ... Family Studies: Yale sophomore Jesse Root is the cousin of NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino, and the grandson of Russell "Lefty" Foster, who pitched for the Phillies and was a B-26 gunner in WWII. Dartmouth senior Jimmy Gaudet is the son of Big Green coach Bob, and the younger brother of former teammate Joe. ... Global Studies: Yale's Nicholad Weberg is the first Norwegian to play for the Bulldogs. ... Tale of the Tape: Yale's roster features 10 players 5-foot-9 or shorter. Both teams are among the NCAA's most gentlemanly, with the Big Green averaging 12.8 PIMs per game, and the Bulldogs with just 12.3 -- six players have played 20 or more games with four penalty minutes.