MEN’S HOCKEY: Freshmen help hockey move forward

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Photo by Ken Yanagisawa.

Early into the season, Yale’s freshman class has already established itself as a key component of the offense for the men’s hockey team.

Last weekend, John Hayden ’17, Michael Doherty ’17, Frankie DiChiara ’17 and Chris Izmirlian ’17 combined for six points over the two games.

“The freshmen [have] done a great job in their own right,” Captain Jesse Root ’14 said. “They have acclimated pretty well. They compete hard, each and every one of them… I haven’t had to do a whole lot — they have been great.”

Head coach Keith Allain ’80 added that he emphasizes having players work hard in practice and has been pleased with the effort he has seen.

Hayden, a Greenwich, Conn. native, was the Bulldogs’ most touted recruit coming into the season. He captained the U.S. National Team Development Program, which plays in the USHL. In his final season, he registered 29 points in 45 games and was named MVP of the 2013 USHL/NHL top prospects game. In June, Hayden was drafted in the third round by the Chicago Blackhawks with the 74th overall pick in the NHL draft.

So far this season, the winger has registered two assists playing on a line with Stu Wilson ’16 and DiChiara.

DiChiara has impressed so far, scoring his first collegiate against Clarkson to go along with his two assists. The Ronkonkoma, N.Y. native, who is also a former teammate of defenseman Rob O’Gara ’16, won the Clark Cup league trophy while playing for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL.

Doherty has stepped into a big role early in the season, replacing Andrew Miller ’13 on the Bulldogs top line with Kenny Agostino ’14 and Root. He has performed well, assisting on Root’s goal against Clarkson that proved to be the game winner. Doherty was second in the Eastern Junior Hockey League in scoring while skating for the Islanders Hockey Club, where he put up 76 points in 47 games last season.

Izmirlian may have been an unknown quantity for many Yale fans coming into the season, but his performance so far has validated Allain’s faith in the forward.

“I thought his energy level and his finishing of checks and the pace that he played at was really important for us as a team on that second night that weekend,” Allain said. “I think he has continued along quite well.”

Allain said that while Izmirlian did not play in Yale’s first game of the season, the freshman has provided a spark since breaking into the lineup.

Izmirlian and his classmates have helped fill in for Yale’s forwards from the class of 2013 — Josh Balch ’13, Antoine Laganiere ’13 and Miller — who proved so vital to the Bulldogs’ attack in last year’s championship season.

Allain said he was encouraged to see all of his young players register points over the weekend.

“I think they are growing and I think that from a talent perspective that by the end of the year they can be contributing a lot more than they are now,” Allain said. “But right now they are where they should be.”

Watch for the class of 2017 to continue to impress on the ice and light up the scoreboard as the season continues.

The freshmen will next play at home on Nov. 16 against Sacred Heart.

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