Sunday, 14 April 2013

Bulldogs Rule The NCAA

Eight miles separate these two teams on Whitney Avenue. They both reside in the state of Connecticut. There can only be one winner as Quinnipiac and Yale traded punches to determine the NCAA's top men's hockey program. Yale was the last team to qualify for the Frozen Four, making it only due to a Michigan loss. Quinnipiac was the top-ranked team in the NCAA for most of the season. And it all came down to one game on Saturday to determine the best team in collegiate hockey.

If you watched the game, you live in the USA. I was quite stunned when neither CBC nor TSN picked up the game to show in Canada, even moreso because TSN and ESPN work with each other quite regularly. In any case, you probably already know that the Yale Bulldogs defeated the Quinnipiac Bobcats 4-0 in the Frozen Four Final to capture the NCAA Championship.
I'd like to congratulate the Yale Bulldogs in winning their first NCAA title in men's hockey in the school's history. It seems like Yale should have a lot more championship trophies on their mantle considering how long they've been around, but it is what it is. Regardless of history, congratulations to the current roster of the Yale Bulldogs on making their own history as the first NCAA Men's Hockey Champions in the school's 117-year history.

The thing that one has to remember is that Yale may not be done. They only had six seniors on this championship team, and they featured eight freshmen. While two of those seniors who will be graduating are goaltenders, this team is very nicely positioned for another possible run next season after gaining a wealth of experience this year. Their blueline will lose a big player in Colin Dueck, but they only have one senior in their defence corps. If teams are built from the goaltender out, this Yale team should be very good next season in their own zone.

Yale had lost three games to Quinnipiac this season, and really needed help getting to the Frozen Four. While they won the Ivy League Championship this season, they finished fourth in the ECAC Tournament, falling to Union 5-0 in the semi-final before succumbing to Quinnipiac 3-0 in the third-place game. Had Michigan defeated Notre Dame in the CCHA Tournament Final, Yale wouldn't have appeared in any program. But, like the Los Angeles Kings in last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, all you need to do is get in. After that, anything can happen.

Yale went out and battled with the second-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers in their opening Frozen Four game, taking them to overtime before Jesse Root scored just nine seconds into the extra frame to eliminate the Gophers. Momentum carried into their next game as Yale hammered the University of North Dakota by a 4-1 score, and the Bulldogs were headed to Pittsburgh for their first Frozen Four Semi-Final appearance since 1952.

Yale drew UMass-Lowell in the semi-final, and these two teams threw hits and made plays like they were pros. It was 2-2 after regulation time had expired, so Yale would go into overtime with the third-ranked team in the nation. Andrew Miller beat his check around the outside before cutting to the middle and sliding the puck between the legs of a sprawling Connor Hellebuyck to send Yale into the Frozen Four Final.

The Frozen Four Final saw Jeff Malcolm stop all 36 Quinnipiac shots fired at him, and Clint Bourbonais's deflection with four seconds left in the second period would prove to be the game-winner. Charles Orzetti, Andre Miller, and Jesse Root capped off the scoring in the 4-0 victory, capping an historic run as Yale became the first team in NCAA history to beat the top-ranked, second-seeded, and third-seeded teams in the tournament. Andrew Miller was sensational in the tournament, being named as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

Congratulations to the 2012-13 Yale Bulldogs, the NCAA Men's Hockey Champions!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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