The Bulldog offense was middling-to-poor last season, scoring four or more goals eight times but scoring fewer than two 11 times — including four shutouts. Fortunately for coach Keith Allain and his charges, the Eli’s top half-dozen scorers are back on Ingalls’ ice this season.
They’re led by junior Backman (18-9-27) and sophomore Little (11-12-23), but don’t overlook second-year sniper Kearney (8-14-22) or junior Arcobello (7-14-21) either. Defenseman Dignard tied for the team lead with 14 helpers, and third-year forward Chris Cahill (6-11-17) rounds out the list of returning double-digit scorers.
“We’ve made progress in each of the last two years, and I’ll continue to expect everyone on our roster to get better,” summed Allain.
“There’s a quiet confidence in our bunch … we have as good a chance as anybody; there’s no dominant team in the league.”
Brian O’Neill is one of six new forwards in New Haven, and O’Neill earned All-Rookie honors with Chicago of the USHL last season. Allain expressed satisfaction with the incoming class’ speed in particular.
Page (1-5-6) will be missed in the back, but he’s the only loss on the Blue’s blue line. Coming back are Dignard, sophomore Mike Matczak (2-7-9) and classmate Jimmy Martin (0-6-6), junior Ryan Donald (2-3-5), and three others who received sporadic ice time last season.
The defense was also pedestrian last year, but the cohesiveness of the group should make for improved performance this time around.
Two recruits signed on for blue line duties this year, each on the small side but with solid track records for disciplined play in the zone.
Blase (2.51 goals-against, .910 save percentage) took over for Richards last season, putting up impressive numbers for his first real season of work. Richards actually finished with better figures (2.02/.919), but Blase earned the wins, so who knows what will happen this year.
Sophomore Ryan Rondeau will be in the mix, and Allain is sure that “each one of those three guys has the ability to get it done.”
Yale’s scoring is solid on an individual level, but spotty as a unit, and that could end up being the difference between fourth and ninth. The Blue are fortunate to have two experienced and able ‘tenders in the stable, and the defense ought to be improved over last year’s edition as well.
All the pieces are there; at this point in time, the program should consider anything worse than fourth to be a disappointment.