Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Last piece in place

Tom Williams' first staff at Yale is now officially announced. The final addition was receivers coach Kefense Hynson who comes to Yale from the defunct Western Washington program.

The only holdovers are defensive line coach Duane Brooks and former defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Rick Flanders who is now the defensive backs coach.

Brian Stark and Ikaika Malloe are the new offensive and defensive coordinators respectively. Mike Sanford (tight ends/recruiting coordinator), Mike Preston (offensive line), Rod Plummer (special teams) and Doug Semones (outside linebackers) join Hynson as new additions to the Yale football family.

Yale will kick off its spring practice on Apr. 6. The 12 practice sessions allowed by the Ivy League will culminate with the annual Blue-White scrimmage on Apr. 25 from 2-4 p.m.

Although this is a blog on Yale football, as the beat writer the last time the Bulldogs played in the NCAA men's hockey tournament has me in a reflective mood.

The assignment to cover the Yale hockey team in the 1997-98 was the first time I covered a beat where I traveled out of state on a regular basis. It was an amazing season. The Bulldogs finished 10th in the ECAC the previous season and to the astonishment of just about everything, they won the ECAC regular-season title. Leading the way was the impressive trio of forward Jeff Hamilton, defenseman Ray Giroux and goaltender Alex Westlund. Joining Giroux as seniors playing pivotal roles was Daryl Jones (his partner on defense), Matt Cumming (who played on the top scoring line along with Hamilton and Jeff Brow) and Brad Dunlap, who teamed with Cory Shea to form a dynamic 1-2 checking tandem. Add in role players like Keith McCullough, Francois Magnant, Ben Stafford (the only freshman to play a regular role) and so many other key players. The chemistry was probably the thing I best remember about the team as well as the heart-stopping ECAC quarterfinal series against St. Lawrence at Ingalls Rink.

I find it ironic that Yale went to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the 1998 tournametn and Michigan finds itself coming to Bridgeport as the top seed in the same region where Yale is the No. 2 seed. Yale lost its NCAA opener to Ohio State. The Bulldogs' fate seemed to be sealed when Hamilton suffered a season-ending shoulder injury following a hit by Princeton's Syl Apps in the ECAC semifinals in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Although I will be unable to attend the regional in Bridgeport because I will be in Trenton, N.J. as part of my UConn women's basketball coverage. If my hotel does not have ESPNU, it's a safe bet I will find a place near the hotel to watch some of the game.

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