Yale's New Breed Rises
by Joshua Seguin/CHN Writer
Much can be said about a great line in college hockey but in most cases these lines have many things in common — chemistry, skill and speed. Skill might appear to be the most important factor, but in reality, chemistry is all the more important.
Yale’s top scoring line of Kenny Agostino, Andrew Miller and Jesse Root all have the ability to put on a show and that is exactly what they did last Saturday against Harvard. Scoring four of five Yale goals, both Agostino and Root showed the ability not only to be in the right place at the right time, but to put away their opportunities.
"There are three players on that line that complement each other really well," said Yale coach Keith Allain. "They work really well together and as a result they create opportunities."
Said Root, "I thought we have been doing pretty well in practice and we have a lot of chemistry between us. It is a pleasure playing with (them). Once we get the puck into the zone and we can keep moving our feet we can get the puck to the net."
The importance of having a line like this for Yale, is heightened by its losses to graduation in recent years. Yale built a reputation as an offensive machine, as it reached three straight NCAA Tournaments from 2009-11. But many of those players are now gone, leaving room for a new breed that will need to raise its game.
Having different styles is seemingly key for these players as each plays a different role in the line. Agostino and Root tend to be the goal scorers, while Miller tends to be the playmaker.
"My two linemates are very different but very similar at the same time," said Root. "They both protect the puck well and both have balance. If you get open for either of them both are dangerous with the puck and find you. The contrast in their games makes them both tough to beat."
The trio put up a remarkable 19 shots between them against Harvard. It seemed as though Harvard, a team that was picked near the top of the ECAC preseason rankings, had no answer for three of the quickest and more skilled players in the conference.
"We got open for each other a lot and tonight we found the open guy," Root said. "I know that if I get open Kenny is going to find me and it’s likewise with Miller. It makes it easier to play when this is the case."
The skill shined bright on Saturday night, but wasn’t dormant on Friday night against Dartmouth. Despite having only two points between them, the three put up 16 shots in the game. The skill and ability to break free was present but the finishing touch was not. Breaking out may have been exactly what they needed and they certainly were able to do that in the weekend finale.
"We have felt good (as a line) all season," said Agostino. "We haven’t been discouraged at all; it’s just the beginning of the season and we are getting used to game speed. Sometimes players can get a little snake-bitten and I think this is where we have been the last few games. We have been generating chances the whole season and tonight we were able to take advantage of them."
An important aspect to every scoring line is a playmaker and the Bulldogs have one of the best in the conference with Andrew Miller on right wing. His two passes to Agostino, setting up his teammate’s goals, were passes that few would have been able to connect on.
"(Andrew) might not put up the flashy goal numbers but he is the best passer that I have ever played with," said Agostino. "He is a special player, that is so unique in his style and you know if you get open he will put the puck on your stick. My first goal was a tap-in (tonight) and it doesn’t get much easier than that."
"On the rush Miller finds you wherever you go,” said Root. “It is great being able to play with a player like him."
With three players that complement each other on a line, Yale may have the most skilled, cohesive line in ECAC hockey. Watching them play as a group shows off to even casual fans the quintissential college hockey line. Chemisty and complementing each other as players is something that could help Yale surprise some fans this year, and if they do, this line will be integral in that success.