PITTSBURGH — With both Quinnipiac and Yale representing the state of Connecticut and ECAC Hockey, it may be easy to overlook the other league that claims the Bulldogs for its own.
Harvard was the last Ivy League school to capture the NCAA championship, back in 1989. Cornell won the title in 1967 and again in 1970. It’s a point that isn’t lost on Yale sophomore defenseman Tommy Fallen.
“It’s incredible,” Fallen said after the Bulldogs practiced Wednesday morning. “An Ivy League team that can compete for a national championship is very rare. We just want to come out here and prove that we can compete for championships and play against these big teams.”
Yale’s only previous trip to the Frozen Four was in 1952, when the Bulldogs lost a semifinal game to Colorado College before beating St. Lawrence in the third-place game. The Bulldogs have played their way to the NCAA tournament in four of the last five years, though, missing the tourney at the end of the 2011-12 season.
“We got really close my first two years,” senior forward Josh Balch said. “We lost in the elite eight and I remember both those days like they were yesterday. It was a really disappointing time. Just to finally get here, it’s a relief. It’s really emotional. Now that we’re here, I want to make the most of it.”
Making the most of the experience is a theme that runs through the Yale locker room. “The main thing is just to enjoy it,” said freshman forward Stu Wilson, son of RIT coach Wayne Wilson. The senior Wilson captained the Bowling Green hockey team that won the national championship in 1984.
“I think the guys on the team, some of the older guys, have told me that,” Stu Wilson said. “Also, my dad from when they went to the Frozen Four told me just to enjoy every moment. As a freshman, you feel a bit spoiled to be going your first year.”
Said sophomore forward Trent Ruffalo, “I think we’re all just trying to soak it in right now, but at the same time, we have a job to do.”