It’s that time of year again. Each day (or so) for the next couple weeks TCHB will be unveiling its preseason top 16 teams in the country. 16 of course because 16 teams make up the NCAA tournament field. Today’s team is the #8 Yale Bulldogs
Fun fact: over the past three years, only 5 schools have more wins than Yale. (h/t INCH). Last year, despite finishing 2nd in the ECAC regular season standings, Yale was the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. They were then upset by eventual national champions Duluth with perhaps a little help from the zebras. In any event, while Yale (probably) won’t be pushing for the #1 overall seed in this year’s NCAA tournament, another run at the ECAC crown is certainly in store in New Haven, as Yale has a handful of talented forwards back, but must replace a couple key cogs as well.
Forwards: The biggest loss for Yale is Broc Little, who had 19 goals and 43 points. In total, the Bulldogs lose 67 goals from a club that led the NCAA in scoring with 4.19 goals per game. Of course, when you lead the country in scoring, there’s usually plenty coming back. As is the case here. Brian O’Neill, who led the team with 20 goals and 46 points – and was 15th nationally in points per game – is back, as is Andrew Miller, whose 1.23 points per ECAC game shared the conference lead with RPI’s Chase Polacek. One player turning heads nationally is Kenny Agostino, who had 11 goals and 25 points as a Freshman last year. He has been dominating at the WJC camp, leading Americans in scoring through three scrimmages, and if he continues to play well this Fall I’m not sure how he can be kept off the team.
Defensemen: Yale loses three defensemen – Jimmy Martin, Brendan Mason and Ken Trentowski – off a group that allowed just 2.09 goals per game in conference play. Though, given Ryan Rondeau’s save percentage (more on that in a bit) it is at least fair to wonder how much of the low goal totals were because of him or because of the defense. Scoring wise, Kevin Peel (4-10–14) is the best one back.
Goaltenders: The big loss is Ryan Rondeau. Though he struggled in previous years, he had a .925 save percentage in 2010-11. With two juniors who played just 5 games between them the only other goalies on the roster, Yale has a mountain of work to replace Rondeau.