On the morning of Sunday, March 24, Yale’s NCAA Tournament hopes were in jeopardy. Michigan was playing Notre Dame in the CCHA Tournament Championship, and a Wolverines win would knock the Bulldogs out of the tournament. Michigan was one of the hottest teams in the nation and it would take a miracle for Yale to make a tournament. Michigan loses, Yale advances.
Selection Day came and Yale was placed in the same regional as historic powerhouses such as Minnesota and North Dakota. The Bulldogs opened with the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Grand Rapids, MI. Minnesota was ranked No. 2 in the nation and one of the favorites to take it all home. It was going to take a miracle for the Bulldogs to pull off the upset. They played hard and took the Gophers to OT tied at 2-2. Nine seconds into OT, Jesse Root scores for the Bulldogs. Yale advances.
On the next day, Yale played North Dakota. The same program that has boasted countless numbers of NHL pros and has been to the Frozen Four a total of 19 times. The WCHA powerhouse knocked off Niagara in the first round and was looking for its 20th Frozen Four appearance. Again, it would take an absolute miracle for Yale to knock off the Fighting Sioux. North Dakota scores early in the first. Yale is down heading into the 3rd period. The Bulldogs then notch four goals in the final 20 minutes. Yale advances.
Now, Yale has reached the Frozen Four. The Bulldogs draw the Hockey East champion and Las Vegas odds-on favorite UMass-Lowell. Yale should just cut its losses and realize this is the best it could do. Not gonna happen. Yale takes an early 2-0 lead on the River Hawks. Lowell scores two goals in 14 seconds. It’s over. No way Yale can hold off the No. 3 team in the nation. The Bulldogs last until overtime. Andrew Miller finds the back of the net. Yale advances.
Yale, amazingly, made the National Championship game. Its reward? In-state rival Quinnipiac. The school eight miles down the road on Whitney Avenue that beat it three times during the regular season. The team that was ranked No. 1 throughout most of the regular season. The team that was the top seed in the tournament. The team that had the Hobey Baker runner-up Eric Hartzell.
Yale pulled off miracle after miracle all post-season long. The Bulldogs beat their rival Bobcats, 4-0. The team that didn’t even belong in this tournament shocked the college hockey world. Jeff Malcolm played outstanding on his birthday and shutout Quinnipiac in Pittsburgh. Kenny Agostino was all over the ice, captain Andrew Miller had another goal, and Pittsburgh native Jesse Root put the nail in the coffin with an empty net goal in the third. Yale defied all odds to get here, but the team showed the world that it belonged.
Congrats to your 2013 Men’s Ice Hockey National Champions, the Yale Bulldogs.