The tournament kicks off with a game at 4:30 PM Eastern, pitting the #3 ranked University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks of Hockey East facing off against the Yale Bulldogs of the ECAC and New Haven, Connecticut.
The second game scheduled for 8 PM will feature the #9 St. Cloud State Huskies representing the WCHA and central Minnesota#1 ranked Quinnipiac Bobcats of the ECAC and located a mere 8 miles down the road from Yale in the New Haven suburb of Hamden.
Yale is the oldest existing collegiate hockey program in the United States, tracing it's origins back to 1893, with their first intercollegiate matching being a 2-2 tie against Johns Hopkins on February 1, 1896.
In their early days, the Bulldogs played against various amateur athletic clubs and a growing number of other college teams, winning their first championship in 1899 with an undefeated record of 6-0. They would then go on to win the next three in a row, giving them four consecutive titles from 1899 to 1902.
In 1919, Yale began their season with five games in Canada, the first American university team to ever do so.
In 1933, Yale, along with Harvard, Dartmouth and Princeton, formed the Quadrangular League and Yale took home the Hobey Baker Trophy as champions in 1934-35. The league continued to grow with the addition of Army in 1947, replaced by Brown two years later.
Murray Murdoch took over as head coach in 1938 and would hold the reins for 27 years, winning 271 games during his tenure.
In 1951-52 Yale finished with a 16-7-0 record and received their first invitation to the NCAA playoffs, which was then comprised of just four teams.
In 1961, Yale and the other members of their league joined the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), where they all remain members to this day, along with Quinnipiac, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Union College, St. Lawrence University, Cornell, Clarkson and Colgate.
Of the current 12 ECAC members, 6 are also members of the normally 8 team Ivy League (Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Brown and Cornell, minus Columbia and Pennsylvania) and the regular season ECAC games among just Ivy League schools are tracked to determine which school is declared the annual Ivy League champion, although no formal playoffs are held.
A low point for the program came in 1974-75 when the Bulldogs posted a dismal 1-21-1 record. Tim Taylor took over as head coach in 1976 and within two years the team had won 14 games and by the conclusion of the 1985-86 season had posted back-to-back 20 win seasons for the first time in their history.
Taylor became only the second coach in program history after Murdoch to win 100 games in November of 1986, but it would take an additional 11 seasons for Yale to win it's first ever ECAC regular season championship in 1998. The Bulldogs then received an invitation to the NCAA playoffs and coach Taylor was named the 1998 Coach of the Year by the American Hockey Coaches Association following the club's 23-9-3 record.
After 28 seasons as head coach, Taylor's final victory would be a memorable one, as Yale would defeat Union 3-2 in five overtimes with a shorthanded goal after six hours and 10 minutes of play at 1:10 AM! It set a new record as the longest game in NCAA history. It was Taylor's 342nd win, leaving him the only coach in school history with 300 wins.
In 2006, Keith Allain became Yale's first new head coach in 30 years (Taylor missed two years to coach the United States Olympic Team). After just three seasons the Bulldogs would claim the Cleary Cup as ECAC regular season champions in 2008-09 and then defeat Brown, St. Lawrence and then Cornell, by a score of 5-0 to convincingly win their first ever ECAC Playoff Championship, which earned them an automatic invitation to the NCAA tournament.
Yale went back-to-back as ECAC regular season champions in 2009-10 and again were invited to the NCAA tournament where they defeated the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux by a score of 3-2, their first win in an NCAA tournament game since 1952, with that being a consolation game for third place.
In December of 2010, Yale received their first ever #1 overall national ranking in school history. They advanced to their third consecutive NCAA appearance thanks to winning the ECAC playoffs for the second season running. They won their second NCAA playoff game with a 2-1 overtime win over the Air Force Falcons and finished the season with the best record in program history at 28-7-1.
This season they once again made the NCAA tournament field as the 15th seed out of 16, but upset the second seeded University of Minnesota 3-2 in overtime and then advanced to tomorrow's Frozen Four with a 4-1 win over North Dakota, their first Frozen Four in 61 years.
The Bulldogs have now won three ECAC regular season titles and two conference tournaments. They have made six NCAA appearances and made the Frozen Four twice and will be looking to win their first national championship this weekend. Of note, the Bulldogs enter the weekend with the most Frozen Four experience of the four teams based on their single previous experience - 61 years ago - as none of the other three teams have been to the Frozen Four before!
Notable Yale alumni include Chris Higgins, currently with the Vancouver Canucks, Randy Wood, Bob Brooke and Bob Kudelski, all of whom played over 400 games in the NHL.
Today's featured jersey is a 2010-11 Yale University Bulldogs Chris Cahill jersey as worn during the season Yale achieved their first ever #1 national ranking in the college hockey polls and finished with the best record in school history.
Yale, like it's Ivy League brothers, leans heavily toward the classic style of jerseys with their simple striping, and single color names, numbers and cresting while limiting themselves to just their traditional, dark "Yale blue" and white.
They have double outlined their cresting and numbers in the past, but like fellow two-color school Wisconsin, have retreated from the double outline "three" color look to once again simplify their look in recent times.