Jeff Anderson, a senior forward on the Yale University men’s hockey team, isn’t waiting for a call from the New York Rangers or Detroit Red Wings. He already has been drafted by JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Anderson, 23, interned with JP Morgan Chase last summer and will forgo an opportunity to play hockey professionally to join the firm’s sales and trading department after graduation this spring. For now, he said his focus is on tonight’s start to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, where the Bulldogs are four wins from the school’s first national title.
“This is an exciting time, especially considering where we were as freshmen,” Anderson said in a telephone interview. “We are a well-rounded team that is dangerous offensively, but also solid on defense.”
Anderson joined a Bulldogs team in 2007 that was 11-17-3 in its previous season and hadn’t made it past the ECAC Hockey quaterfinals in nine years. Yale has since won two conference championships and now has qualified for three straight NCAA tournaments, a program record.
The Bulldogs (27-6-1) achieved the school’s first No. 1 national ranking on Dec. 6 and earned the overall top seed in college hockey’s national tournament. Yale opens the single-elimination event against the U.S. Air Force Academy in the East Regional in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The Bulldogs lead all Division I teams in both offense and defense. Yale scores 4.29 goals a game and allows 2.00 goals a game. The team won the ECAC Hockey conference championship last weekend in Atlantic City, New Jersey, by outscoring Colgate University and Cornell University by a cumulative score of 10-0.
Anderson’s ‘Hardest Decision’
A native of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Anderson played three years of junior hockey in Canada before attending Yale. He said that even though there are a number of professional hockey opportunities next year, he will end his on-ice career to pursue other passions, such as finance and business. He consulted family, friends and colleagues on what he said was the hardest decision of his life.
“An opportunity with JPMorgan does not come along every day, and if I pursued hockey, I don’t know if it would be around in the future,” Anderson said.
Jack Morrison, who graduated in 1967 as Yale’s career scoring leader, made a similar decision. Morrison, 65, played alongside Herb Brooks while leading the U.S. hockey team in scoring at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France. He opted to attend Harvard Business School instead of playing professional hockey.
“Do I ever regret it? Yes, I do,” Morrison said in a telephone interview. “You always wonder whether you could have made it professionally.”
Morrison worked on Wall Street at Kidder, Peabody & Co. after graduating from Harvard, and in 1989, co-founded Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison Inc., an investment firm in Minneapolis. Morrison, the managing director of the firm’s investment team, still plays hockey three times a week, and said he is both proud and impressed when he watches the 2010-11 Bulldogs.
“They are not terribly big, but most of them are smaller forwards that can really fly and they move the puck awfully well,” Morrison said.
This is Yale’s fifth overall appearance in the NCAA tournament, where the team is 2-4. Last year the Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA regional finals, where they lost 9-7 to Boston College, the eventual national champion. Yale junior forward Charles Brockett, who will intern in the securities department at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. this summer, said that experience will benefit the team.
‘Been Here Before’
“We have a team loaded with upperclassmen who have been here before,” Brockett said in a telephone interview. “We know how hard it is to win this thing and we know what we need to do to prepare.”
The team is led by sophomore forward Andrew Miller and junior forward Brian O’Neill, who have combined for 30 goals and 59 assists. Senior goaltender Ryan Rondeau, the ECAC Hockey Championships Most Outstanding Player, leads the nation with a 1.83 goals-against average and is second with a .932 save percentage.
The Bulldogs have scored three or more goals in six straight games, and have lost once in 10 games since Feb. 11. Brockett, 22, said the team is more focused now than it has been at any other point this season.
“We went into this season with one goal in mind, and that’s winning the national championship,” Brockett said. “We are going to be disappointed unless that happens.”
If Yale wins tonight, it will play either Union College, based in Schenectady, New York, or the University of Minnesota Duluth tomorrow. The NCAA tournament finishes with the national championship game on April 9 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Anderson said he tries not to think about Yale’s next loss likely being his last competitive hockey game. Instead, he said that he and the Bulldogs remain driven toward the goal they set at the beginning of the season.
“That would mean more than anything I have accomplished in my life,” Anderson said. “I don’t think there could be any better way to go out than to win that national title.”