Yale fields roster deep in talent, but goaltending in spotlight

Go ahead and try to find a reason why Yale shouldn’t have swept the ECAC preseason coaches and media polls.

Astounding freshmen coming in? Check. Scoring depth? Got it. Goaltending?

Wait, what was the last one? Oh, goaltending. Yeah, that could be a reason. After all, with the departure of Ryan Rondeau to graduation, that leaves the Bulldogs with 29 total games of experience and only five last year split between juniors Jeff Malcolm and Nick Maricic.

Training camp will continue to be interesting through October, as Connor Wilson comes in after being a workhorse over 54 games for the United States Hockey League’s Chicago Steel.

“We’ll wait and see when we get on the ice who warrants the right to play,” said coach Keith Allain, who in his sixth year behind the bench hopes to lead Yale to a fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance.

“We graduated nine players last year, and we’re bringing in eight freshmen,” he added. “Although obviously we’ll have some different players than last year, I expect to once again have a hard-working, competitive, fast team. We have some excellent upperclassmen returning, and our staff has done an excellent job of reinforcing us with recruits.”

The team’s two top scorers from 2010-11, senior captain Brian O’Neill and junior Andrew Miller, are not only back, but both earned spots on the coaches and media preseason all-conference teams. Throw in sophomores Kenny Agostino and Jesse Root, junior Antoine Laganiere and senior Kevin Limbert and you realize opponents will have to dig pretty deep to find any weaknesses in the forward lines. It’s a good bet they may not find any such weak spots.

“Depth is one of the things that made us an effective hockey team the last few years. We have two lines that can score, at the very least, and we look to maintain that consistency,” said Allain. “Last year, we had some really good players who had a hard time cracking the lineup. This year, hopefully, those guys advance, and they’ll be pushed by the freshmen.”

About the Bulldogs

2010-11 overall record: 28-7-1

2010-11 ECAC record: 17-4-1 (second)

2011-12 predicted finish (coaches poll): First

Key losses: G Ryan Rondeau, F Broc Little, F Denny Kearney, F Chris Cahill, D Jimmy Martin, D Mike Matczak

Players to watch: Senior F Brian O’Neill, junior F Andrew Miller, sophomore F Kenny Agostino, senior D Kevin Peel, freshman D Trent Ruffolo, freshman F Nicholas Weberg

Impact rookie: D Matt Killian

Why the Bulldogs will finish higher than the coaches poll: Can’t do better than first, but they need to bring a young defense and inexperienced goalie trio up to speed to make it happen.

Why the Bulldogs will finish lower than the coaches poll: See above, regarding three goalies with 29 total college games between them. Someone will need to take the crease and run with it early on.