Yale stuns Quinnipiac to win NCAA title
Yale had come to expect the unexpected during its remarkable run to the NCAA final, whether it was stunning two top seeds in overtime or getting goals from players not known for their scoring.
The Bulldogs got all of that and more in the NCAA championship game, as the last team in finished the Frozen Four as the last team standing.
Behind a spectacular shutout by goaltender Jeff Malcolm and goals by Clinton Bourbonais, Charles Orzetti, Andrew Miller and Mt. Lebanon's Jesse Root, Yale defeated No. 1 overall seed Quinnipiac, 4-0, to win the NCAA title Saturday night before 18,184 at Consol Energy Center. The three games drew a two-day total attendance of 35,612.
“I think it's difficult to beat anyone in college hockey, night in and night out. There's so much parity,” said Miller, the Yale captain who scored the semifinal overtime winner and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Frozen Four. “Whoever has the hottest goalie and plays the best team game wins, and I think we did that for the last four games.”
It was the fifth shutout in an NCAA final, with the others coming in 1972, 1968, 2004 and 2010, and the first men's ice hockey national championship for Yale, an Ivy League school which has produced five U.S. Presidents. What made it more special was the bragging rights it gives the Bulldogs over their cross-town and conference rival.
The Connecticut schools are separated by 10 miles, with Quinnipiac in Hamden and Yale in New Haven, and the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference members were meeting for the fourth time this season. Quinnipiac won the first three meetings by a combined score of 13-3, with the most recent a 3-0 victory in the ECAC tourney third-place game, and held a 10-5-2 series edge.
“We're devastated,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “It was a great year, and this isn't the way it was supposed to end. … I think we were the best team in college hockey for the season. Unfortunately, we didn't prove it tonight. You've got to give Yale credit for that.”
Where Quinnipiac (30-8-5) cruised to the final with victories over Canisius, Union and St. Cloud State, Yale (22-12-3) sandwiched a pair of 3-2 overtime victories over the top seeds in the West (Minnesota) and Northeast (Massachusetts Lowell) around a victory over North Dakota.
“One of the special things about our team and one of the qualities of all champions is the great ability to focus,” Yale coach Keith Allain said. “If we'd looked down the road and said we had to beat three No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 seed, the task would've seemed daunting. … Obviously, it took a great deal of effort but it's not impossible, as we showed.”
Not only did Quinnipiac boast the nation's best defense – which allowed only 1.65 goals a game – but a Hobey Baker finalist and first-team All-American in goaltender Eric Hartzell, who faced 31 shots, including a barrage of eight in a second-period power play. But the Bobcats were upstaged by Malcolm (36 saves) and his tenacious teammates.
“Malcolm was great,” Pecknold said. “He was the best player on the ice. He won that game for them.”
It was an incredible 24th birthday for Malcolm, who was serenaded by Yale students during one second-period break and again after being named the No. 1 star. Malcolm stopped 15 shots in the second period, including seven on one power play, in outdueling Hartzell.
“It's tough to not get up for a national championship game,” Malcolm said. “If you can't get up for that, you don't have a heartbeat.”
The Bulldogs scored with 3.5 seconds left in the second period, after Hartzell cleared the puck from behind his net. Yale defenseman Gus Young intercepted the puck along the left boards and fired a quick shot that was redirected by Bourbonais through Hartzell's legs for the 1-0 lead.
It was the fourth goal of the season for Bourbonais, who then assisted on a goal that gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead at 3:35 of the third period. He fed a pass to Orzetti, a freshman left wing who fired a shot from the top of the left circle that bounced off Hartzell's pads. With Quinnipiac captain Zack Currie's back turned, Orzetti followed the miss from a sharp angle at the bottom of the circle that Hartzell never saw slide past him. It was Orzetti's second goal of the season.
Miller made it 3-0 at 9:06 of the third, taking a pass from Kenny Agostino for a breakaway and beating Hartzell for his 18th goal. The Bulldogs weren't done. When Quinnipiac pulled Hartzell during a 4-on-4, Root took a pass from Miller and fired a shot into the net past a sliding defenseman. The pass helped Miller set the school record for career assists, with 114.
And it provided a fitting finish to the first Frozen Four in Pittsburgh, with a native son scoring the final goal for the first-time national champions.