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Bulldogs Bark Loudest

Yale Blanks Quinnipiac For Unlikely NCAA Title

Quinnipiac's Cory Hibbeler (6) collides with Yale's Rob O'Gara (4) during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey national championship game in Pittsburgh on Saturday, April 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene Puskar)

Quinnipiac's Cory Hibbeler (6) collides with Yale's Rob O'Gara (4) during the first period of the NCAA Frozen Four men's college hockey national championship game in Pittsburgh on Saturday, April 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene Puskar)

Pittsburgh — Jeff Malcolm stopped 36 shots and Yale won its first NCAA hockey championship with a 4-0 victory over top-seeded Quinnipiac last night.

Clinton Bourbonais, Charles Orzetti, Andrew Miller and Jesse Root scored for the Bulldogs (22-12-3), who avenged three earlier losses to the Connecticut-rival Bobcats this season by stunning the nation’s No. 1 team on the biggest stage of all.

Bourbonais scored with 4 seconds left in the second period to give Yale the lead, then the Bulldogs (30-80-5) added three more in the third to win going away. Yale became the first ECAC team since Harvard in 1989 to capture the national title.

Quinnipiac’s Eric Hartzell stopped 27 shots, but the Hobey Baker finalist was beaten between the legs three times, including a breakaway goal by Miller midway through the third to give Yale a commanding 3-0 lead.

The victory was sweet revenge for Yale after Quinnipiac dominated the season series, sweeping all three meetings and outscoring the Bulldogs 13-3. The Bobcats trailed for all of 18 minutes in the three games combined and Hartzell allowed only one goal in the previous eight periods against Yale.

Yet Quinnipiac coach Rand Becknold insisted the Bulldogs weren’t the same team the Bobcats steamrolled 3-0 three weeks ago in the ECAC tournament consolation game.

Yale tripped up national powers Minnesota and North Dakota to make the Frozen Four for the first time since 1952, then edged UMass Lowell 3-2 in overtime in the semifinals Thursday.

The nation’s oldest hockey program embraced the roll of underdog against the surging Bobcats, who have gone from Division III afterthought to the top team in the country in less than two decades.

That rapid ascension culminated with Quinnipiac putting together a season for the ages, rolling through a 21-game unbeaten streak at one point and into the NCAAs as the top seed.

The Bobcats certainly looked like it after rallying by Canisius in the opening round, then blowing through Union and St. Cloud State to roar into the title game.

Yale, however, hardly appeared intimidated. The two rattled the boards at Consol Energy Center with a series of collisions, some of them legal, some of them not so much.

It led to a series of power plays, including two-man advantages for both sides in the second period. Hartzell — the backbone of the best penalty killing team in Division I — never faltered. Neither did Malcolm. He was spectacular at times, including a fabulous toe save to stuff the Bobcats at the doorstep.

The Yale fans serenaded Malcolm with Happy Birthday during one stoppage in play, and the 24-year-old goalie celebrated by taking turning away Yale’s nemesis one breathtaking stop at a time.

It was Hartzell who blinked first.

The clock winding down late in the second period, Young flipped what appeared to be an innocent shot from just outside the left circle. Bourbonais slapped his stick on the ice just as the puck rolled past him a few feet in front of the crease.

The change of direction sent the puck between Hartzell’s legs to give Yale an unlikely lead and a major boost heading into the final intermission of the season.

Quinnipiac attempted to respond early in the third, flying around the Yale net in the same way the Bobcats overwhelmed St. Cloud State on Thursday. Malcolm, in perfect position nearly every time, maintained his composure.

His teammates repaid his hard work with another unlikely goal. Orzetti, a freshman who hadn’t scored since Dec. 8, streaked down the left wing and fired a shot at Hartzell. The rebound trickled to Hartzell’s right and Orzetti slammed home the rebound between the goalie’s legs to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.

Miller, who had been stymied by Hartzell all season, finally broke through with a pretty breakaway move 9:06 into the third to make it 3-0. The Bobcats panicked, pulling Hartzell with 7:19 remaining.

The ploy lasted all of 20 seconds. Root, a Pittsburgh native, delivered the puck into the empty net and turned the final 7 minutes into a coronation after one of the last teams to make the NCAA field stormed to an unlikely and long awaited title.