Friday, December 4, 2015

Cats and Dogs

Bobcats the pebble in Allain's shoe
If you look down the 10th ranked Yale hockey roster, you can only find 5 players who have ever experienced a win over neighboring rival Quinnipiac, and that was in the surreal setting of the NCAA Championship Game. Twice last year the Bulldogs had their jaws around the 'Cats neck, twice they settled for a tie. Although the fans at Ingalls are still satisfied with their NCAA title back in 2013, the players have no confidence playing Quinnipiac, and Keith Allain simply seethes. For a guy who is ordinarily grumpy, failing to beat his border rival Rand Pecknold raises hackles indeed. First of all,
Div III Product Pecknold
Pecknold is not part of the fraternity, with no Ivy League ties like Allain's rivals at Cornell (Shaefer), Harvard (Donato) and Dartmouth (Gaudet). Secondly, and more importantly, Pecknold is a media darling, having never met a camera he didn't want to seduce. Allain, emphatically, is the opposite. Yale refuses all requests for locker access, Pecknold on the other hand eagerly accepts, giving coaching tutorials and pep talks on cue.

In their championship season, after being shut out of their ECAC consolation match by Quinnipiac in Atlantic City, Allain ignored the mandatory Conference presser, grabbed his Elis and peeled out of the Garden State hissing mad. Only later did the Bulldogs find out that they had snuck into the NCAA's via the servants' entrance.

Today's Yale squad is solid, with great goaltending, good defense, and a defensive system that every player buys into. They are a reasonable choice as the #10th ranked team in the country. Meanwhile Quinnipiac is ranked #2, with a reasonable case for being #1. They have opened the season with a 15-game unbeaten streak, reminiscent of their undefeated runs in 2013 (21 GMS) and 2014 (13 GMS). They are a juggernaut looking to claim the tastiest scalp on their schedule, the Ivy League snobs down the street.

The second decade of the 2000's will be looked back upon as the Halcyon Days of Yale hockey, the Keith Allain Era of four trips to the NCAA's and one precious ring. And unless the Bulldogs find a way to solve the country's hottest goalie Quinnipiac's 4-line offensive machine, it will also be remembered at the second best team on Whitney Avenue.

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