Sunday, December 7, 2014

Weekend at Yale


I visited New Haven back in September and saw one of the great upsets in college football this season when the Yale Bulldogs knocked off Army. With a weekend free in December, I decided to revisit, this time scheduling the trip around a Yale hockey game. It was a miserable time to travel though, as a nearly constant downpour soaked the city Friday and Saturday. Without a car, I was pretty much trapped at the hotel, but the Bulldogs had a couple of contests that kept me entertained.



Yale plays their hockey at Ingalls Rink, one of the most interesting venues in all of college sports. Designed by architect Eero Saarinen, it is a cool looking building during the day. Unfortunately, 1 arrived at night in a downpour and didn't bother taking a picture. Check out the Stadium Journey link above for a good shot.



Inside, the unique design continues, with the outer concourse rising up as you move towards center ice. Note the banners, including the really big one commemorating the Bulldogs 2013 national title.



Make sure to head downstairs as well, where there are small displays on the history of the building and Yale Hockey, as well as some vending machines should the rather dull concession offerings fail to tempt your taste buds.



The game featured RPI (in red above) visiting Yale in an ECAC battle, and frankly I don't remember too much about it. Yale won 5-2 in a game highlighted by some great goaltending from Alex Lyon (actually letting one in in the shot above), but the overall play was pretty choppy. I've seen a couple of college games now and the skill level isn't as good as major junior in Canada, but that is to be expected given that those leagues are the primary feeders to the pros. The best part about college hockey is that games last just around two hours, meaning a 7 pm start finishes at 9, leaving you the rest of the evening to find something to eat and perhaps drink (I liked Box 63 about 15 minutes southwest of the rink).



A brief respite from the rain on Saturday morning allowed me to visit the British Museum of Art, one of two excellent galleries on campus, both of which offer free admission. I also visited Louis' Lunch, a small restaurant that claims to have served the first hamburger. It does a booming business with tourists from around the world stopping in to try this unique version served between two slices of white bread rather than a bun. Worth a shot, but expect your meat to be cooked rare and don't bother looking for ketchup or mustard, only cheese, tomato, and onion are allowed as condiments.



As I left the restaurant, it started raining again, so rather than tour the campus, I decided to pay a visit to John J Lee Amphitheater, where the women's basketball team was hosting Boston Terriers in a battle of canine mascots.



I had never seen a women's NCAA game from start to finish and at $5, it was a better option than getting drenched. The gym is really old school, with hard wooden seats and a set of benches closer to the court. You can also stand on the upper level behind the basket, a great view. I hope to return for men's basketball.





With few fans in attendance, the sounds of the game rang throughout the gymnasium, which became irritating after a while, particularly the squeaky shoes and substitution buzzer. Yale led by 7 at halftime but the Terriers fought back to take a 54-51 lead with 3 minutes to go. After Yale tied the game at 56, captain Sarah Halejian (below) took over, scoring on a three-point play and following that with a jumper to make it 61-56 with a minute to go. Boston resorted to fouling and Halejian made 4 of 6 to finish with a game-high 19 points as Yale came away with the 66-59 win.



Unfortunately, the referees thought they were on ESPN, whistling 38 fouls in 40 minutes of action, some of which were just plain stupid calls. I really want to like basketball, but games where the officials dominate make it so difficult.



The attendance was announced as 160, a generous estimate. I doubt I will see any more NCAA women's basketball, it just isn't that compelling. What makes the game exciting is the athleticism (speed, dunks, blocks) and the women's game lacks in all three areas, particularly at this level.

Best,

Sean

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