After spending last year in Reims, France playing on the city’s club hockey team, forward Chris Cahill ’11 is back at the Whale for the Bulldogs, and he’s been making an impact.

In his senior campaign, the forward has already shown he is ready for ECAC competition with both his physicality and point-scoring prowess, debuting with five points in four games.

In the Bulldogs’ season opener against the Brown, Cahill made his presence felt on the ice when he crashed into Bears goalie Mike Clemente and then got into a fight after the whistle. His actions earned him a game misconduct as well as a minor and major penalty, a total of 17 penalty minutes, but Cahill said it’s just the way he plays.

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“My playing style is a physical brand of hockey,” Cahill said. “I’m one of the few kids on the team that’s willing to do that.”

Cahill bounced back and contributed to the score sheet last Friday in the team’s game versus league rival Princeton. The forward showed himself to be back in stride with his two goals and one assist, leading the Bulldogs over the Tigers in his first two-goal game of his collegiate career.

Though the Bulldogs made a successful run in the post-season last year without Cahill, the team is enthused by his return from France. Before his departure, the senior forward enjoyed three strong seasons with the Bulldogs, playing in every game his freshman and sophomore year, and netting the team’s final goal of the season his junior year against Vermont at the NCAA Northeast Regional semifinals.

“Getting him back was such a bonus, a great thing for our team,” captain Jimmy Martin ’11 said. “Chris is such an asset for any team … he can end up big on the score sheet, and even when he doesn’t, he brings a physical presence.”

At 24 years old, Cahill occupies a leadership role off the ice as well that his teammates said carries over from his on-ice dedication.

“The way he plays lends itself to him being a leader, and helps the locker room out,” Martin added.

In France, Cahill was a member of the Reims club hockey team. He racked up 13 goals and 13 assists in a mere 18 games abroad. With that experience behind him, however, Cahill has channeled his energy into the coming season.

“I’m focused on the challenges ahead,” the forward said. “I think what separates this Yale team from years past is how unselfish we all are. Everyone just wants to win.”

Thanks in part to Cahill’s contribution of points and physicality, the team is currently ranked third nationally. This weekend, the Bulldogs travel to Colorado for games against Colorado College Saturday and Air Force Academy Sunday.