Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Inaugural Tim Taylor Cup at stake Saturday

Another outstanding memorial for an outstanding man.

Press release:

Inaugural Tim Taylor Cup To be Presented Saturday After Harvard-Yale Hockey Game
Most Outstanding Player of Annual Contest To Receive Award In Memory of Revered Coach
Friends and peers of the late Tim Taylor have created an award that honors the former Harvard, Yale and USA Hockey coach. The Tim Taylor Cup will be presented to the most outstanding player of the annual Harvard-Yale men’s hockey game played in Boston. The first presentation takes place this Saturday at the conclusion of the game at Harvard’s Bright-Landry Center. Game time is 7:00 p.m.

“Timmy was a very special person to so many of us in the hockey community,” said Joe Bertagna, a former Harvard goaltender who played for and coached with Taylor. “He was a teacher who always had time for fellow coaches and so many players along the way. Given his association with both institutions, we felt that this was a proper way to honor his contributions to our game.”

Taylor was a member of the Harvard Class of 1963, serving as captain of the 1962-63 squad that captured the ECAC Championship. He later returned to his alma mater as freshman coach and assistant varsity coach to Bill Cleary. He was named Yale’s head coach in 1978 and enjoyed a remarkable 28-year run in New Haven, winning 337 games for the Bulldogs.

In addition to his work at the college level, Tim was active with USA Hockey in a number of roles. He was an assistant coach to Lou Vairo for the 1984 Olympic Games. In 1991, he served as acting head coach for Team USA in the Canada Cup Tournament, leading the team to a silver medal when head coach Bob Johnson suffered a stroke just prior to the start of the tournament. In 1994, he served as head coach and general manager of the U.S. Olympic Team in Lillehammer, Norway. As recently as 2013, he was a key advisor to the U.S. Junior National Team that won gold at the World Championships at Ufa, Russia.

“Timmy was passionate about the game his entire life,” added Ben Smith, who, played at Harvard, coached with Taylor at Yale and also works for USA Hockey. “He never tired of watching and studying the game and sharing his observations with others. He was very generous with his time and only had the best interests in growing the game both at home and on the international stage.”

Tim Taylor passed away on April 27, 2013, after a courageous four-year battle with cancer. Some 700 friends and colleagues filled Harvard’s Memorial Church on June 1 of that year to pay their respects. In addition to this award, the ECAC has named its Coach of the Year award after Tim and the Hockey Commissioners Association named its national Rookie of the Year award in his honor as well.

The first Tim Taylor Cup will be presented by a member of Tim’s family at the conclusion of this Saturday night’s game, the recipient to be chosen by representatives from the schools and the media attending the game.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

No tickets left for UConn-Sacred Heart at Taft

UConn played before 8,000 at the XL Center last week. Its next in-state game will be a true sellout, just a bit smaller. All 950 seats at Watertown's Taft School have been sold for Friday night's game between UConn and Sacred Heart. The game serves as a benefit for the family of North Haven's Jason Pagni, a local hockey coach killed in a car accident in January. All proceeds from the night, which includes a raffle and silent auction, are being donated to Pagni's widow and two young children.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cornell's Mike Schafer suspended, issues apology

Cornell issued the following statement this evening:

Statements From Cornell Men's Hockey Mike Schafer, the Jay R. Bloom ’77 Head Coach of Men’s Hockey at Cornell University, has issued the following statement following ECAC Hockey’s announcement that he has been suspended for the team’s next game.

“I’d like apologize for using profane language in my postgame comments on Saturday evening following our contest against Quinnipiac. My language was unnecessary, and I did not represent Cornell and our hockey program in a first-class manner.

“Cole Bardreau, who had previously suffered a serious neck injury, was run into the boards from behind in the game,” Schafer added. “Cole’s status continues to be evaluated, but the hit on Saturday may force him to miss future games. I was angry that there was no recognition of the seriousness of the play and let my emotions get the best of me after the contest. The safety of student-athletes is paramount to me. I have apologized to Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold for my comments.”

“I respect Coach Schafer’s passion and respect for the health of his student-athletes,” said Andy Noel, the Meakem*Smith Director of Athletics and Physical Education. “He used inappropriate words to describe how he was understandably upset at the situation. The Cornell Department of Athletics and Physical Education understands ECAC Hockey’s decision to suspend Coach Schafer for this isolated incident.”

Cornell coach Mike Schafer has choice words for Rand Pecknold

Quinnipiac's 1-0 win over Cornell Saturday night featured a late game-winning goal, a handshake line scuffle and an angry Mike Schafer.

In a postgame interview with a Quinnipiac student reporter outside the visiting locker room at High Point Solutions Arena, Schafer railed against Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold in an expletive-filled tirade.

QBSN has the full audio.

But here's the money quote. And by money quote, we mean the line that should lead the ECAC (and Cornell) to suspend Schafer for a game or two. "I guess my first comment, and I want it to be loud and clear, I think what their coach did was a f***ing classless a**hole."

Schafer apparently overheard Pecknold asking referees for an embellishment call on Cole Bardreau after the Cornell player was head headfirst into the boards by Quinnipiac forward Matthew Peca. Peca was issued a 5-minute major for hitting from behind and game misconduct.

When the game was over, Schafer exchanged angry words with Pecknold on the ice. A handshake line scuffle between players followed. “You wonder why the guys were pissed at the end at center ice," Schafer says. "It’s not the kids. They take the lead from us, so yeah I contributed to it because I’m pissed off at their coach at the end of the game for being such an a**hole.”

The teams next play on Feb. 6 at Cornell's Lynah Rink.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Video of Quinnipiac's late victory over Cornell

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Now it feels like hockey season

Yes, Quinnipiac has been playing all month. But around these parts, it doesn't truly feel like college hockey season until both Yale and Quinnipiac get going, especially when there's big news sprinkled into the mix. Jack McDonald announced he will retire in June (here's my column with reaction from Jack and some of his staff). Also made my way over to Yale on Wednesday afternoon and was at Quinnipiac practice this morning. A few notes to hold you over until Friday night...

** Keith Allain didn't love his team's effort against Alberta last Friday night, but said it was the perfect opponent in that situation. The Bears are as good as any NCAA team and provided a real test to a Yale team still finding its bearings after a week of full practice. "It was a good game for us to figure out where we're at. Systematically, structure-wise, we're where we probably should have been one week into practice. Hopefully we'll be a week ahead of that on Friday night. Our compete level and work ethic (against Alberta) was not up to the standards of Yale hockey. For us to expect better results we have to work harder and compete harder."

** Yale had numerous injuries last weekend, especially for so early in the season. Mitch Witek, Tommy Fallen, Matt Killian and Adam Larkin were the only healthy full-time defensemen. Allain said the Bulldogs are still dealing with injuries, and there will be scratches this weekend. But they will have six defensemen ready for Friday, though he wouldn't elaborate on who would be back in the lineup. "We have nine defensemen in our program. To think we could only dress four for that game on Friday. That's a situation I've never experienced before."

** Allain says Yale's forward lines likely won't be solidified until after Christmas. "We're always trying things, sometimes injuries force you to try other things, but you expect to grow all season long and I think we're a long way from a finished product right now." Defense will be solid once everyone is healthy. Most questions with the Bulldogs center around who will pick up the scoring slack left by Kenny Agostino and Jesse Root. John Hayden is an obvious candidate. "I think we have the potential to get scoring from a number of areas. We expect Hayden and Frank DiChiara to score more than they did last year. I think Mike Doherty should score for us, Matt Beattie should score for us. I'd like Nico Weberg to produce more. And I think we'll get a great deal of offensive production from our blue line. We're going to be a team that will have all five guys in the attack. I expect a number of our defensemen to be in the top part of our scoring." It's the way Allain likes to play, and he knows this team has the talent on the blue line to execute.

** Yale leaves for Newark and the Prudential Center today. The opener against Princeton at the Liberty Hockey Invitational is by design, and the only reason Yale agreed to continue with the tournament. Allain isn't comfortable opening with teams not dealing with the same restrictions on start dates for practice and games, and feels it's a disadvantage (see Alberta exhibition.) The inaugural LHI was an all-Ivy affair, but tournament organizers widened the field by dropping Dartmouth and Brown in favor of Hockey East opponents Merrimack and UConn. Yale is committed to the event the next two years, but insists on opening with Princeton.

** The format this weekend leaves an open day on Saturday. Yale will skate at the Prudential Center and take in that evening's Devils-Blue Jackets game.

** Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold expects to have forward Travis St. Denis back for this weekend's series with Northeastern. St. Denis was injured midway through a game with UMass Lowell two weeks ago, and sat out the loss to UConn in Bridgeport.

** Pecknold said his team has been working to shore things up in all areas, chalking much of the mistakes of the first four games to a team still finding itself. Quinnipiac has a history of blitzing through the month of October, so its 1-2-1 record, which includes a 4-1 loss to UConn, is disconcerting. Still, the Bobcats could easily be 3-1 right now. There's a ton of talent and potential. It just needs more seasoning.

** Got a chance to speak with freshman forward Landon Smith for a feature set to appear in tomorrow's paper. Look for that online later today.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Alberta gives Yale fits

Keith Allain called this one "a rude awakening." The University of Alberta executed Yale's systems with  more efficiency and poise in its 3-0 victory before 1,841 tonight at Ingalls Rink.

Don't worry too much. Yale was severely short-handed. Injuries to defensemen Rob O'Gara, Ryan Obuchowski, Dan O'Keefe and Nate Repensky forced the Bulldogs to cover with forwards on the blue line. Forwards Chris Izmirlian and Trent Ruffolo didn't dress, either. Keith Allain said the team is banged up and "everyone who was healthy dressed tonight." He did not elaborate on the extent of any of the injured. Not helping matters was the major penalty and game misconduct to Carson Cooper at 2:24. Alberta scored two of its three goals on that initial power play.

Goalies Alex Lyon, Connor Wilson and Patrick Spano saw plenty of action and all looked solid.

Allain said afterward he hoped his team would be further along in its understanding of the systems. Alberta, the defending national champs in Canada, didn't help matters. Already two months into the season, they skated how Yale wants to skate, fast and creative and unrelenting. Most Western Canadian universities play a plodding, half-court style. Alberta caught the Bulldogs by surprise with their quickness and pace.

"We can learn a lot from watching this game," Allain said. "They play the way we like to play. Only we didn't play the way we wanted, so tonight they played the way we want to play."

Allain also said there's no reason to get too caught up in the line combinations tonight. He's not committed to anything and was searching for chemistry between players. Unfortunately, there wasn't much there tonight. John Hayden may have been the best player on the ice, and looks more and more like a future NHL player. Defenseman Tommy Fallen was also solid. Freshman Ryan Hitchcock skated with Hayden and showed skill and offensive ability.

The season opener is a week away. Yale has much to work on.