After losing leading scorers, Yale hopes to have strength in goaltending

Alex Lyon had a 2.41 GAA as a freshman (photo: Matt Dewkett).

Much like its Ivy counterpart Cornell, Yale wasn’t terrible last season. The Bulldogs finished sixth by virtue of a tiebreaker with Clarkson, only two points behind the Big Red for fourth place.

While they weren’t terrible, they weren’t good enough, either, as they missed out on the NCAA tournament for only the second time since 2007-08.

As they’ve become national contenders the last few years, the Bulldogs have been known for a fast, high-flying offense. It should be a bit different this year (don’t expect too many box scores like this), as sophomore goaltender Alex Lyon and a talented group of defensemen including senior Tommy Fallen and juniors Rob O’Gara and Ryan Obuchowski should contribute both offensively and defensively.

Obuchowski (6-14–20) is Yale’s top returning scorer, while Fallen and O’Gara combined for 11 goals last season.

“I think goaltending is going to be a strength this season,” Yale coach Keith Allain said. “We return all three [Lyon, senior Colin Wilson and sophomore Patrick Spano] … and all three can do the job.”

That’s not to say Yale won’t get any offense from its forwards. The Bulldogs finished last year tied for 11th nationally in goals per game but graduated leading scorers Jesse Root and Kenny Agostino.

Look for returners John Hayden, who has plus size, and Stu Wilson, a solid two-way player, to help pick up some of the slack. Sophomore Mike Doherty, the Bulldogs’ top returning goal scorer is also back.

Those returners should combine with several newcomers to give Yale production throughout the lineup.

Incoming forward Ryan Hitchcock was a gold medalist with U.S. Under-18 squad at the 2014 World Championship. At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds with speed, he fits the typical profile of a Yale forward and is on the radar for the NHL draft this June, according to several scouting reports. He’ll be joined by forwards Henry Hart and John Baiocco.

Defensemen Nate Repensky and Adam Larkin also should compete for playing time right away.

“I think we’ll be very deep and as a result, ice time should be at a premium,” Allain said.

About the Bulldogs

2013-14 overall record: 17-11-5

2013-14 ECAC Hockey record: 10-8-4 (tie, fifth)

2014-15 predicted finish: Fifth in the coaches poll, fourth in the media poll

Key losses: F Kenny Agostino, F Jesse Root, D Gus Young

Players to watch: F John Hayden, F Stu Wilson, D Tommy Fallen, D Ryan Obuchowski, D Rob O’Gara, G Alex Lyon

Impact rookies: F Ryan Hitchcock, D Nate Repensky, D Adam Larkin

Why the Bulldogs will finish higher than predicted: The defense and goaltending are among the best in the league, while Yale gets balanced production throughout the lineup.

Why the Bulldogs will finish lower than predicted: Yale can’t find any offensive consistency and too much pressure is put on Lyon and the defense.