by Roger Wistar
Although they had to travel across the country to Arizona to get it, Henry Wilder '20 and Jack Ferguson '20 returned with the prize they wanted: an ice hockey national championship.
Wilder and Ferguson's Yale Bulldogs club team won the inaugural USA Hockey Tier I 15-year-old national championship game on Apr. 10 with a 7-2 victory over the Colorado Evolution.
Both Ferguson, a defenseman, and Wilder, a goalie, played significant roles in the Bulldog's undefeated (5-0) run through the tournament to the title.
Wilder started in net for all five victories, including playing all 51 minutes of the title game, saving 18 of 20 shots.
The Bulldogs started off hot, with two goals in the first four minutes en route to a 3-0 advantage at the first intermission. Colorado would never get closer than two goals the rest of the way as Yale coasted to victory.
It was a relatively relaxing ending to an otherwise heart-stopping tournament for Yale, who needed to win three straight overtime games, including one by shootout, just to reach the finals.
During the run, Wilder allowed only 10 goals on 131 shots for a 0.923 save percentage.
The biggest drama in the championship game came towards the end of the second period when the Ice Den in Scottsdale lost power, forcing officials to relocate the remainder of the game to nearby Tempe.
It was the first tournament for the new 15-year-old age classification, introduced last year by USA Hockey to help players make the transition from the Under-14 to Under-16 programs.
Both Ferguson and Wilder played for the varsity hockey team at Hotchkiss this year, their first at the school.
Photo courtesy of Matthew Wilder P'20