Andrew Miller scored 6:59 into the first overtime to lift Yale over UMass Lowell and secure a berth for the Bulldogs in the Championship game on Saturday.
Yale, who is making their first appearance in a Frozen Four since 1952, will face Quinnipiac in Saturday night’s championship game.
After picking up a clearing pass off the boards, Miller drove wide around Greg Amlong before backhanding a shot through Connor Hellebuyck’s five-hole.
“That’s probably the biggest goal in the history of Yale hockey,” Bulldogs’ head coach Keith Allain said.
Miller was also thrilled with his goal and the game’s outcome.
“It is just an honor,” he said. “I think we’ve worked hard to be here, and we’ve got a good balance. It was just a matter of time before we popped one.”
For a Cinderella team that squeaked into the tournament by beating Notre Dame for the CCHA Championship, Yale dominated UMass throughout the game, outshooting them 16-3 in the third period alone. Still, with the score knotted at two after 60 minutes of regulation hockey, Allain said that a bad bounce or break could have ended his team’s season, especially with UMass goalie Hellebuyck standing on his head throughout the game.
“I’ve been with teams that have outplayed other teams and for one reason or another don’t get the bounce,” Allain said. “But I also believe that was the right approach for us, and if we stuck with the plan, the odds would favor our team breaking through, and that’s what happened. Until you get the goal, you’re always wondering when it’s going to come, for sure.”
While the Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead in the first period, UMass rallied to tie the score with goals 14 seconds apart in the second. However, UMass forward Joseph Pendenza admitted that even that goal spurt didn’t swing the momentum in UMass’s favor.
“It should have been (a turning point),” he said. “We definitely tried to get pucks in deep in their ‘D,’ and their ‘D’ played a really good game and helped at the blue line. They just kept kind of coming in waves. They did what we usually do to other teams, so a little taste of our own medicine, kind of. But they just got the pucks first tonight, and they played a hell of a game.”
UMass head coach Norm Bazin also acknowledged that his team didn’t have their legs and simply couldn’t match Yale’s effort.
“It was just one of those games that the magic certainly wasn’t there tonight in terms of skating and being able to adjust on the fly,” he said. “You know, you can’t say anything but tip your hat to the Yale hockey club. They played an excellent hockey game, and they were able to take the play to us.”
Coach Allain had a similar assessment of his team.
“Line after line, D-pair after D-pair, I thought we just came after Lowell, came after Lowell, and eventually Andrew was able to get the game winner there in overtime,” he said. “And make no mistake about it, Lowell is a great and worthy opponent, and that’s what makes the win so special for us.”
For their part, Yale, who defeated heavyweights Minnesota and North Dakota before taking down UMass Lowell, is taking the underdog role as an unheralded ECAC team in stride.
“We just focus on ourselves,” Bulldogs’ defenseman Gus Young said. “We let the media and other teams have their own opinion of us. We just have to work every day in practice, then come game time we just do what we have to do and don’t worry about anyone else. So we’re very focused on that.”
Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Scott Wilson assisted on UMass’s first goal of the game…Yale junior Jesse Root is a native of Pittsburgh, and played on the Mt. Lebanon state championship team in 2006. He attended Taft (CT) prior to enrolling at Yale…Wetmore and Pendenza’s goals 14 seconds apart are sixth fastest by one team in NCAA Frozen Four history.
YALE: Mitch Witek (1), Antoine Laganiere (15), Andrew Miller (17)
UML: Riley Wetmore (16), Joseph Pendenza (15)
YALE: Carson Cooper (2), Andrew Miller, Matt Killian
UML: Derek Arnold, Scott Wilson, A.J. White, Josh Holmstrom
In the Net:
YALE: Jeff Malcolm (W) 16-18
UML: Connor Hellebuyck (L) 44-47