Mom’s Hockey Team Wins NCAA Title


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1966-67 YALE UNIVERSITY varsity were led by JACK MORRISON (wearing # 4 jersey, sitting fourth from right in the front row), the talented senior forward from Minneapolis, Minnesota, who reset the school records previously established by Wally Kilrea after totaling 68 assists and 119 points in three seasons skating for the Bulldogs. Morrison, who scored the overtime goal for Yale that handed 1967 NCAA champion Cornell University its only loss of the season, was selected First Team (East) All-America and went on to appear with the United States at the 1968 Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, France. In the photo above, the sophomore goaltender sitting at the far left in the first row is MARK DAYTON, another Minneapolis native who is the 40th and current Governor of the state of Minnesota.
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The world-famous “YALE WHALE”, itself, is actually not all that far of a drive away from the corner of Whitney and Canner streets in the very distinct city of New Haven, Connecticut. Of course, the varsity ice hockey team of well-known YALE UNIVERSITY had been contesting its home games in the truly unique athletic arena well before this blog’s mother took her newly-earned doctorate degree in art history from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and went off to work at the Ivy League institution in the late 1980s or, in fact, even before the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference, itself, had even been created more than half a century ago nowadays. Never a tremendous supporter of a sport she, herself, once sincerely described as “barbaric and brutal by nature”, the recent arrival in New Haven wasted no time at all promoting the novel David S. Ingalls Ice Rink, nonetheless.

As it stood, the younger of two sons both then away attending college in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was keen on the fast-paced stuff that the Canadians have always loved so much, and so off in the mail went one of those little pocket calendar schedules — featuring the one and only Yale Whale on the cover — for the 1987/88 edition of the Yale Bulldogs ice hockey squad.

Oddly enough, this particular blogger was by this time a regular reader of The Boston Globe and eagerly anticipating a 1988 Winter Olympic Games event that would see a trio of Harvard University players skating for the United States contingent at the Calgary Saddledome in western Canada. On the other hand, the blog was also very familiar with former Yale University First Team (East) All-America center BOB BROOKE and contemporary Bulldogs head coach TIM TAYLOR, both of whom had been involved with the ill-fated United States squad that participated at the XIV Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Only just a few short years earlier, it had been the pioneering Brooke who had become the very first player from Yale University to ever appear in a National Hockey League contest after joining the New York Rangers in March of 1984.

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Yale University’s 1983 NCAA First Team (East) All-America center BOB BROOKE (13) congratulates right wing ED OLCZYK (12), the 17-year-old teenager from Palos Heights, Illinois, whom the in-state Chicago Black Hawks would make the third overall pick in the first round of the annual National Hockey League Draft in the summer of 1984, after Olczyk’s goal for the United States national team against the Washington Captials of the National Hockey League in an exhibition contest early on in the 1983/84 season, well ahead of the XIV Winter Olympic Games to be held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
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The New York-born, Pennsylvania-raised blogger being schooled in Massachusetts was also acutely aware of the progress of one RANDY WOOD, the former Yale University left winger who was in the process of scoring 22 goals during the 1987/88 campaign as an NHL rookie in his first full season with the New York Islanders. The native of Princeton, New Jersey, had been promoted from the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League at the tail end of the previous season and gone on to skate in 13 of the Islanders’ 14 Stanley Cup playoff contests that spring. Indeed, Wood had been in the thick of things when the New York Islanders rallied from a 3-1 playoff series deficit to defeat the Washington Capitals in a memorable seventh game that required no less than 68 minutes and 47 seconds of overtime play before Islanders center PAT LAFONTAINE finally beat 1984 United States Olympic team colleague BOB MASON with a long shot, spin-around slapshot from the blue line.

(The actual owner of this blog and the meat-and-potatoes producer of the all articles seen here can both joyfully recall this legendary Stanley Cup contest as well as the coinciding Keg Redistribution Program that was conducted at tiny Williams College in western Massachusetts on that memorable night, but, alas, that would be another story for some other time)

One major obstacle standing in the way increased attention to the Yale Bulldogs was a long-standing loyalty to the University of Minnesota’s ice hockey program. It had been in Phoenix, Arizona, in the mid-1950s that Mom’s parents had put her on a train bound for Wellesley College in eastern Massachusetts and bascially said, “We really don’t have any money to get you back so good luck with everything!” But well before the two guys responsible for this particular blog had even been born, the influential couple who had never attended college, themselves, moved to the state of Minnesota where they happily lived out the rest of their days in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

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When center BOB KUDELSKI left Yale University at the conclusion of the 1986/87 season, only the legendary DING PALMER (87 goals) had put more pucks in the back of the net than the seventy-eight that the New England native who was chosen by the Los Angeles Kings in the National Hockey League’s so-called Supplemental Draft of 1986 had in only three seasons skating in the Eastern Collegiate Atheltic Conference on behalf of the Bulldogs.
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Truth be told, Mom had much more luck promoting hockey in the New England city that was originally founded in 1638 and is located on the northern shore of the Long Island Sound when shifting the focus to the old New Haven Nighthawks then competing in the American Hockey League. The professional Nighthawks had been around since the early 1970s and had already served as the AHL farm club of both the New York Islanders and New York Rangers as well as the Minnesota North Stars (the traditional favorite NHL club of this particular blogger). By the late 1980s, the New Haven Nighthawks had been the AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings for almost a decade.

On prominent player on the New Haven Nighthawks roster in the midst of his rookie professional season during the 1987/88 season was former Yale University center BOB KUDELSKI, the native of Springfield, Massachusetts, who concluded his college career as the Bulldogs all-time leading scorer with 158 points (breaking the school record of 155 set by Bob Brooke in 1983). After trying out and failing to land a spot on the 1988 United States Olympic team, the 1987 All-ECAC First Team selection earned a place on the roster of the Los Angeles Kings in training camp and skated in 26 NHL games at the start of the 87/88 campaign. But Kudelski was soon demoted to New Haven of the AHL that year, where the popular Yale product scored 47 goals in 110 AHL games over the course of two seasons for the Nighthawks before landing a regular place on the Kings’ NHL roster to begin the 1989/90 schedule.

And so, to continue with the confessions, it was always at the old Memorial Coliseum downtown where this particular blogger preferred to patronize local ice hockey in the city of New Haven. The unfortunate Yale Whale was actually a victim of many drive-bys in the past but never, regrettably, has never been a place where this particular blogger could be found in attendance of a Bulldogs varsity contest. Perhaps there is still time to rectify what seems to be a deplorable situation, upon further reflection.

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As might be expected of a cultured and well-educated lady owning and operating a respected wedding gown restoration business in Orange, Connecticut, for the past twenty years or so, Mom was not necessarily aware when the five-time NCAA champion University of Minnesota, the traditional collegiate powerhouse who were ranked # 2 in the nation, were drawn to play Ivy League underdog Yale University in the opening round of the annual NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament. But, as was the case with experts all across the country, Mom was rather confident that Grandma’s Hockey Team would skate right past the boys from New Haven wearing blue sweaters. And so the Bulldogs’ victory in overtime came as quite a shock to Mom, as did the fact that this year’s Frozen Four contestants UMass – Lowell and Qiunnipiac even have Division I hockey programs in the first place!

As for the 2013 NCAA Final featuring two schools from the greater New Haven area, there was never any question which side Mom would be favoring … “I’m sure that Quinnipiac are very nice people doing some wonderful things so I do not wish to be rude” was the official reply.

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