Happy Returns for Yale's Cahill
by Jason Klump/CHN Writer
Chris Cahill would have been part of the most heralded senior class in the history of Yale hockey last season. He was once the third member of an all-freshmen top line that also featured Sean Backman and Mark Arcobello.
Then, instead of returning for his senior year with the rest of his class, Cahill unexpectedly decided to leave Yale.
"I took a year off for personal reasons and I'll leave last year at that," the 23-year old said.
Yale coach Keith Allain did at least indicate that Cahill was always expected to return this season.
"We knew that Chris would be back and that he would be motivated to contribute in any way possible," he said. "He was an important part of our plans all along."
The North Andover, Mass., product, who had played both at the Phillips Academy and with the USNTDP, finished fourth on the team in points (17) and third in goals (8) behind the two of them as a freshman, when four of the top five scorers on the team were newcomers.
Despite scoring 17 points again as a sophomore, Cahill fell to sixth overall on the team with the addition of Denny Kearney and Broc Little.
But his production fell off heavily as a junior in 2008-09 after he sat out much of November with an early-season injury. He scored only twice, once in the first game of the season and then not again until he notched the Bulldogs' lone goal in their NCAA tourney opener loss to Vermont.
Now back after a one-year hiatus during which he dis-enrolled from school and moved to the Champagne region of France, Cahill thrust himself back into the discussion of the nation's most prolific offense with a five-point weekend against rivals Princeton and Quinnipiac to start the ECAC slate last weekend. That included just his second ever two-goal collegiate game on Friday against the Tigers, with the previous instance happening over three calendar years ago and involving an ENG.
"It was nice to get two wins to start our league season off," Cahill said. "Coach Allain has stressed over the years that with team success comes individual success. I had a good weekend points-wise, but the most important thing was that were successful as a team."
He continued with his offensive contributions this past weekend, scoring his third goal against Colorado College and his fourth assist at Air Force during the Bulldogs' trip to Colorado Springs. Thus, he has already equaled his total production during all of his junior year after only six games and is well ahead of pace to set a career high.
While Cahill may have put his Ivy League degree on hold for a year, he was not doing so with his hockey career. He spent much of last winter playing for Les Phenix of Reims, a club team that participates at the Division I level, the second-highest, in the French Hockey Federation.
Cahill certainly regained his scoring touch there as he netted 13 goals and added as many helpers in 18 games over a four month stretch from October to February. He was fifth on the team and in the top 20 percent of the league in scoring despite playing less than three-quarters of the regular season and departing the team before the playoffs, in which 4th-place Reims bowed out in the semifinals to the eventual champions.
On the loss of his old classmates, who Yale coach Keith Allain has repeatedly referred to as "the leaders of the turnaround of Yale hockey," Cahill said, "Its been different not having those guys around. But their work ethic and confidence remains in our team culture.
"I wouldn't trade graduating with the guys that I came in with for the opportunity to go after a national championship this year," he continued, "especially after the experience the team gained last year."
Cahill has stepped right back on to one of the Elis' two top lines, where he is experiencing the benefits of that gained experience by playing with Brian O'Neill and Andrew Miller, who came of age and blossomed into lethal scoring threats in his absence.
"It's fun playing with O'Neill and Miller — they are great players," he said. "Like our team as a whole, they are very unselfish and it is easy to play with them. I'm looking forward to gaining more experience playing with them and then seeing what kind of damage we can do together."