Yale University captured its first ever NCAA Hockey Championship Saturday night at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In a span of just three minutes and 38 seconds, Yale took control of what was a scoreless tie to defeat the Quinnipiac Bobcats, the tournament's number one overall seed, 4-0.
Neither team could break through and find the net for the first 39 minutes and 57 seconds of the game until Yale defenseman Gus Young fired what looked like a harmless shot on net. Junior forward Clinton Bourbonais re-directed the puck past Quinnipiac senior goaltender Eric Hartzell, who lost out on the Hobey Baker Award a day earlier.
"It was a tie game until late in the second period. We've been stressing getting pucks and bodies to the net. And we threw it to the net there, and Bourbonais tipped it in, and that gave us the momentum going into the third," said Yale coach Keith Allain.
Although the momentum swung Yale's way, Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold still had confidence in his team entering the third period. "I thought we were still fine until they squeaked that second one in."
Yale had all the momentum heading into the final period of regulation, but the Bobcats still were playing with plenty of passion for the first three and a half minutes of the third. A weak rebound goal by Yale freshman Charles Orzetti really took the wind out of the sails for Quinnipiac. The Wyckoff, NJ native received a lead pass from Bourbonais. Hartzell stopped Orzetti's initial shot, but the rebound came right back at him. His second shot beat the Quinnipiac goaltender through the wickets.
It was a goal that Hartzell would certainly like to have back, but his coach stood behind his senior goaltender. "I still think he was the best player in college hockey. I'm sure he'd like to have that one back, but if it wasn't for him, we wouldn't even be here," said Pecknold.
Yale added to its lead at the 9:06 mark when Andrew Miller put another shot through the five-hole of Hartzell. Miller, Yale's senior captain, was sent in all alone by a nice lead pass from sophomore Kenny Agostino.
The goal was a result of Miller slipping past the Quinnipiac defenders in the neutral zone. "We knew they were going to run around a little bit because they were behind, so we took advantage of those opportunities," said the Bloomfield Hills, Mich. native.
Running out of options, Pecknold pulled his goaltender for the extra attacker with over seven minutes to play. Jesse Root, a Pittsburgh native, buried his 12th of the season into an empty net to put the final icing on the cake. Miller would pick up his 23rd assist of the season on the fourth goal. It was also his 114th career assist, making him the school's all-time record holder in that category.
Allain said he didn't think it was a bad decision by his counterpart on the other bench to pull the goalie. "I think they probably had to [pull the goalie]. I think we had a three-goal lead at the time and it was four-on-four. If you pull the goalie in that situation, you can go with your power play structure," explained Allain.
Yale senior goaltender Jeff Malcolm ended his college career in sparkling fashion. The Lethbridge, Alberta native stopped all 36 shots he faced and outdueled one of the runners-up for the Hobey Baker Award at the other end. Malcolm said it was easy for him to be excited to compete for a national championship. "It's tough to not get up for a national championship game," said Malcolm. "If you can't get up for that, you don't have a heartbeat," he added.
It was a tough way for Quinnipiac to end its season. "We're devastated. It was a great year, and this wasn't how it was supposed to end," said Pecknold. "I think we were the best team in college hockey all season, but we didn't prove it tonight," added the emotion losing coach.
Yale won the NCAA Championship for the first time in its second appearance at the Frozen Four. The only previous trip to the Frozen Four came in 1952. "I think tonight was our turn. Our kids were ready and committed.
"We work hard in practice. We work hard off the ice, and I think that's why we won the national championship", said Miller. "To bring a national championship back to Yale is unbelievable," added Miller.
Jeff Cox covers college hockey for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.