Curtis Hall scored 10 minutes into Yale’s season opener on Nov. 1, and he’s been piling up goals ever since.
The 6-foot-3 sophomore center has provided a lifeline for the offense-hungry Bulldogs. With 13 goals in 15 games, he’s accounted for 28 percent of their goals.
Hall, who played for the U.S. at the World Junior Championship this year, was at it again on Sunday, scoring Yale’s first goal in a 3-2 victory over UConn in the consolation game of the Connecticut Ice tournament in Bridgeport.
After a 2-7 start, Yale was on a 7-2 run before Saturday’s disappointing 6-2 defeat at the hands of eventual tourney champ Sacred Heart on Saturday. Bouncing back with a win over UConn on Sunday gave the Bulldogs a lift heading into this weekend’s games at Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
“We had a tough start to the season. As Christmas approached, we were getting better and we were really looking forward to the second half and we’ve done well so far. The Sacred Heart game was upsetting for us, but it was good to get one win out of the weekend,’’ said Hall.
Drafted in the fourth round by the Boston Bruins in 2018, Hall scored five goals and 11 points in 24 games as a freshman last season. He’s already surpassed those numbers with a team-leading 13 goals and 15 points this season.
“I’ve had a good year from a goal standpoint. With Joe Snively leaving last year, he was a big goal-scorer for us, so we needed to fill that spot. Everybody’s doing their best to do that. The goals – it’s hard to say why – but they’ve been going in,’’ said Hall.
The Bruins have certainly noticed the improvement in Hall’s game.
“Give credit to Curtis for wanting to make himself better and doing everything he needs to do to do that,’’ said John Ferguson Jr., Boston’s executive director of player personnel. “His attentiveness to details, to off-ice preparation, to a willingness to go hard to the dirty areas in straight lines and do something positive when he gets there, those are all great attributes.’’
Despite the U.S. team’s disappointing finish in the world juniors, Hall enjoyed his time in the Czech Republic.
“The players I was with, there’s something to learn from all of them. There’s a lot of skill on that team, so I had to play a different role than I have been here this year at Yale. I learned a lot from the coaches, as well. Overall, it was a great experience,’’ he said.
Connecticut Ice a hit
Quinnipiac and Yale, the two ECAC schools that played in the inaugural Connecticut Ice Festival tournament over the weekend, didn’t get the results they were looking for.
Yale was smoked by Sacred Heart of Atlantic Hockey on Saturday and Quinnpiac lost to Sacred Heart in the championship game on Sunday after beating Hockey East’s UConn in the tourney opener.
Wins and losses aside, however, there was nearly universal agreement that the event was a big step forward for hockey in Connecticut and for the state’s four Division I teams.
“I wish this was around when I was a little guy. You see the kids running around in track suits representing their teams. This would have been awesome to come to as a young kid. I can only see it getting bigger and better from here,’’ said Quinnipiac captain Nick Jermain, who is from nearby Norwalk, Conn., and scored the game-winner against UConn on Saturday.
The tournament had been talked about for years, with the idea being that a tourney featuring the state’s four Division I programs, modeled on Boston’s longstanding Beanpot, could be a hit.
“I’m excited that we’ve started this tournament,’’ Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said after the win against UConn. “(Former Yale coach) Tim Taylor and I talked about this, I don’t know, 15-16 years ago. (Former Quinnipiac athletic director) Jack McDonald, we were all talking about it and it just never happened. I’m excited to have it come to fruition. Just looking in the room here, this is like the Frozen Four, with the media attention we have here.’’
Sponsored by SNY, the New York sports network, the tournament drew 5,724 on Saturday and 4,631 on Sunday at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, which seats 8,600 for hockey. In addition to the college games, Connecticut Ice featured high school and youth games and clinics run by USA Hockey.
“I can only see it getting bigger and better from here. It’s great for hockey and great for hockey in Connecticut,’’ said Jermain.
Pecknold agreed: “We should run this tournament every year for the next 30, 40, 50 years.’’
Quinnipiac has just three players from Connecticut on its roster. Connecticut Ice could help Pecknold and his staff land more.
“To be honest with you, I would love to get more Connecticut kids. I would have taken Spencer Knight,’’ Pecknold said with a sly smile, referring to the standout Boston College freshman goalie from Darien, Conn.
“We try hard. Part of the problem with us is we lost a lot of kids to BU, BC and Harvard, three pretty good programs. I think this (tournament) certainly will help.’’
Shot in the arm for RPI
Live by the shootout, die by the shootout.
A year ago, Union and Rensselaer battled to a 0-0 tie in their annual Mayor’s Cup game, with Union hanging on to the trophy by winning the shootout.
Goals were hard to come by in this year’s game, too. Thankfully, the 6,154 fans at the Times Union Center in Albany on Saturday didn’t have to wait until the shootout to see the red light. The two Capital District rivals skated to a 1-1 deadlock after regulation time and a five-minute overtime, then Rensselaer won the shootout and took home the cup for the first time in four years.
“Last year, you lose in the shootout and you don’t win the Mayor’s Cup and so it’s down,’’ Rensselaer coach Dave Smith said after the game. “It’s exciting to win it. So, we win it this year and you see the jubilation and, right now, I am definitely in favor of shootouts. Last year, not so much.”
Rolling blackout on PP
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Colgate’s power play is struggling. Really, really struggling.
The Raiders have scored only four power play goals all season. The last one came on a five on three in a win at Dartmouth on Dec. 6. Since then, they are 0 for 25 over seven-plus games.
Overall, Colgate has a success rate of 4.5 percent, the worst in the country.