Thursday, April 11, 2013

Yale Advances to National Title Game

And to think they almost didn't make the field.

The last school to gain a berth in this year's NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Tournament, the Yale University Bulldogs are one of the last teams standing following a dramatic 3-2 national semifinal victory over third-ranked UMass Lowell in overtime on Thursday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

Yale will now face Connecticut and ECAC rival Quinnipiac , a 4-1 semifinal winner over St. Cloud State, on Saturday night for the national title. It will be the first NCAA Championship Game appearance for both the Bulldogs and the Bobcats, who faced each other three times this year, all Quinnipiac victories.

Senior captain Andrew Miller corralled a bouncing puck at the UML blueline, stepped outside a defender, and ultimately slipped a backhander between the pads of River Hawks netminder Connor Hellebuyck (44 saves) just 6:59 into sudden death to lift Yale to its third straight NCAA Tournament victory over a ranked opponent.

The Bulldogs, who made the national tournament when Michigan was eliminated in the CCHA title game and missed out on an at-large NCAA bid, defeated No.2 Minnesota (3-2 OT) and No. 7 North Dakota (4-1) two weeks ago at the NCAA West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Mitch Witek and Antoine Laganiere staked Yale to 2-0 lead after the first period before UML tied the contest on second-period scores just 14 seconds apart by Riley Wetmore and Joseph Pendenza . It stayed that way even though Yale outshot UML, 16-3, in the final 20 minutes of regulation, and 6-0 in the extra session before Miller struck. Jeff Malcolm finished with 16 saves for Yale, which outshot the River Hawks, 47-18.

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