PITTSBURGH -- Just three weeks after sneaking into the NCAA tournament as the 15th overall seed, the Yale University Bulldogs are headed to the national championship game. They knocked off the Hockey East champion UMass-Lowell River Hawks, 3-2, in overtime in the opening game of the Frozen Four and will take on either St. Cloud State or ECAC rival Quinnipiac in the title game on Saturday night.
The game was a near carbon copy of their West Regional opener against Minnesota, just the start of what's become a stunning, thrilling tournament for the Bulldogs. Yale stormed out to a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to two power play chances but then sat back a bit in the second, allowing Lowell to control the tempo and get back in the game. UML scored two goals just 14 seconds apart in the second period to tie the score, and the teams would play a much more conservative game through the remainder of the period and for the final 20 minutes in the third.
But in the extra session, it was clear that Yale had the extra step. They completely dominated Lowell to start the overtime period, keeping the puck in the offensive end of the ice and often looking like they had a man advantage. UMass-Lowell goaltender Connor Hellebuyck held his team in for much of the period, but he couldn't stop senior Andrew Miller's break at the 6:59 mark of OT.
Miller picked up a loose puck at the blue line and danced around freshman Lowell defenseman Greg Amlong, who would probably like the chance for a do-over on the play. Unimpeded to the goal, Miller deked around the poke check of Hellebuyck and pushed the puck across the goal line.
Amlong will get the chance to redeem himself next season with the River Hawks, which are coming off of the best season in program history and will certainly make another push at a national title in the next three years.
But for now, it's Yale's turn to try and bring a national championship to New Haven.