The men’s ice hockey team will face a tough offensive attack in its matchup against Dartmouth tonight.
After only losing three forwards to graduation, the Big Green return tons of young talent, including its top three point scorers from last year — junior Lee Stempniak, and sophomores Hugh Jessiman and Mike Ouellette.
“They have a solid group of forwards that skate extremely well,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said.
Stempniak led the team and was second overall in the conference last year with 49 points. His accomplishments earned him All-ECAC honorable mention and team MVP.
“Stempniak is one of the most underrated players in college hockey,” Taylor said.
The Bulldogs will not take Stempniak lightly, as he has already proven himself this year, tallying four of Dartmouth’s nine goals thus far this season, including a hat trick in a 3-1 victory over Brown.
Jessiman also has impressive accolades, coming off one of the best ECAC rookie seasons, tallying 47 points, the most ever by a Dartmouth freshman and good for second on the team.
“Hugh Jessiman is a big kid with good skill level, he responded very well to the college game,” Taylor said.
In the 2003 NHL draft, the New York Rangers took Jessiman in the first round with the 12th pick overall. He was the highest Dartmouth player drafted and highest ranked ECAC player to be drafted in 20 years.
As a result of his record-setting 2002-2003 season, Jessiman earned ECAC, Ivy League and New England Hockey Writers’ rookie of the year. He also was awarded honorable mention All-ECAC and an ECAC All-Rookie selection.
Thus far this season, Jessiman stands second on the team in points with one goal and two assists.
One concern for the Bulldogs will be the size of the Dartmouth forward — Jessiman stands at 6-foot-5-inches and weighs in at 215 lbs. making him one of the biggest forwards in the league.
“He is so big and strong and has very good hands and his reach is longer than most defensemen that he is very tough to cover,” Taylor said.
In addition to Jessiman and Stempniak, the Bulldogs cannot forget about Ouellette who is also coming off an stellar rookie campaign, finishing third on the team in points.
This trio will certainly play a huge role in tonight’s game. Taylor hopes to find the right match-ups against the Big Green’s top line.
“A key will be having our veteran defensemen out there against those guys,” Taylor said.
The Bulldogs have seen some of the best forwards in the country already this year and they know that Dartmouth’s best, though tough, are stoppable.
“It’s nothing we haven’t seen before,” Eli captain Vin Hellemeyer ’04 said. “You want to acknowledge the fact that they’re out there, but you don’t want it to take you off of your game. We have confidence in everybody out there doing their job.”
Yale knows that it needs to focus on its own game and not on Dartmouth’s. Last Saturday, in the third period against Harvard, the Elis began to show how well they can play and hope to take that momentum into the game against the Big Green.
“I played against those guys last year,” Eli goaltender Josh Gartner ’06 said. “We just need to know when they’re on the ice and just take care of our own end.”