By Josh Hagwell
Over the next few weeks, each of this year’s participants in the Friendship Four will be featured in a brief article, helping the fans learn about the the teams and what to expect in November. Up first, the Yale Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs of Yale University have the oldest collegiate hockey team in history with competitions dating as far back a 1893. In their 97 official seasons, Yale has a .498 win percentage and two ECAC conference titles. Yale has one National Championship coming in 2013 and has 8 total NCAA tournament appearances, 6 of the appearances coming in the last 9 years.
Despite being an Ivy League school that revolves around academics and success in scholarly achievements, their athletics programs are steeped in tradition and history.
Current head coach Keith Allain has guided the Bulldogs to multiple successful seasons and a .615 win percentage in his 11 years at the helm. Coach Allain also guided Yale to the 2013 NCAA National Title. Coach Allain has also been on the coaching staff for USA Hockey and most recently was a United States assistant coach for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
There are three former players that represent Yale in the NHL. Most notably Alex Lyon is now the goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers, John Hayden was a mid round pick who is a forward for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Players to Watch
Yale have a couple current NHL draft picks on their roster. Forwards Curtis Hall and Luke Stevens will look to contribute up front offensively for Yale this season. Edmonton Oilers draft pick Phil Kemp will be able to provide some defensive support. Senior Joe Snively had a breakout junior campaign last year and will look to continue his play into his senior season. The brother duo of Evan and Mitchell Smith will look to bounce back after tough freshmen campaigns to provide Yale with some additional point production up front.
When asked about the Friendship Four tournament and coming to Belfast in November, Head Coach Keith Allain had this to say: “We are all really excited to be competing in Belfast. In addition to the great hockey, we are looking forward to visiting Northern Ireland, meeting new people, and experiencing the culture of your beautiful country. I have spoken with several people who have competed in the Friendship Four and every one speaks highly of the total experience for their student athletes. I’m sure the trip will bring us closer together as a team and create lifelong memories for our young men.”