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College Hockey:
Minnesota-Duluth beats Yale, makes Frozen Four on strength of second-period surge

— It was billed as the battle of the Bulldogs, and in the end it was the less aggressive dog — at least in terms of banging bodies around the rink — that prevailed.

Minnesota-Duluth placed its opposition, Yale, into a massive hole by capitalizing on power plays generated from undisciplined penalties in the middle period and then held off a late rally to capture the 2011 NCAA East Regional championship, 5-3, at the Webster Bank Arena Saturday night.

The win advances UMD to its fourth Frozen Four and first since 2004. They will face the Northeast Regional champion that will be crowned on Sunday.

The game took a major turn in the middle period when Yale was whistled for seven penalties, most notably a five-minute major and game misconduct to Brian O’Neill for contact to the head. Minnesota-Duluth scored three times with the man advantage and once seconds after a penalty expired to turn a 1-0 advantage through one to a 5-1 lead entering the third, the largest deficit Yale faced all season.

UMD coach Scott Sandelin felt not only capitalizing on the power plays was a major key, but so, too, was his team’s ability to not be dragged into a game of retaliation and undisciplined penalties.

“We were harping on [staying disciplined] pretty good,” said Sandelin. “[Yale was] getting frustrated with some of the calls. We’ve all been through that as a player and coach. We felt that we could stay out of the stuff and take advantage of them getting immediately frustrated with those things.”

The fact that Yale was in a 5-1 hole heading to the third wasn’t just about penalties, it was also a factor of not cashing in early in the game when they had all sorts of momentum.

Yale had ample opportunities in the opening period to get on the scoreboard, particularly during a five-on-three power play midway through. Duluth, though, limited Yale’s quality chances and Yale shot in the foot, twice missing open nets.

It was a Yale power play late in the period that led to the game’s opening goal, though it was UMD that stuck short-handed when Mike Connolly buried a pass from Justin Fontaine at 18:00, just 30 seconds after Minnesota-Duluth goaltender Kenny Reiter, who finished with 30 saves and the Most Outstanding Player award, stonewalled Yale’s Broc Little with a left pad save on the doorstep.

Immediately after the UMD goal, Little again had another great chance, breaking in alone with a short-handed bid of his own, only to have Reiter stop him again.

In the second, things quickly came unglued for Yale. Seconds after killing a five-on-three, UMD extended its lead as Wade Bergman’s shot from the left point deflected off of a Yale defender and handcuffed Rondeau.

At 9:07, Yale’s Chris Cahill was whistled for roughing the goaltender, giving an extra shove to Reiter as he lost his footing heading toward the next. Eighteen seconds later, Jack Connolly scored his 17th goal of the season, sniping a shot high short side on Yale netminder Ryan Rondeau (16 saves).

Yale brought the near-capacity crowd to life when O’Neill one-timed a pass on the power play past Reiter 11:30. But eight seconds later, O’Neill went from hero to goat.

An over-exuberant hit at center ice by the junior winger was ruled a five-minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head.

Yale coach Keith Allain, who has led his team to the regional final in back-to-back seasons, hardly seemed in agreement with the officials after the game, though carefully dodged saying that directly.

“Look at the tape and tell me what you think,” Allain said when asked about the play. When one writer quipped that it didn’t appear there was contact to the head, Allain followed: “Write that. They gave us a five-minute penalty and took our best player out of the game.”

It took just 14 seconds for Mike Seidel to swipe home a loose puck at the left faceoff circle for the 4-1 lead. Then after Yale’s Nick Jaskowiak was sent off for boarding, Justin Fontaine blasted home yet another goal from nearly the exact same spot as Seidel.

Yale tried its best to mount a rally in the third. After replacing Rondeau with Nick Maricic (five saves) to begin the frame, Little and Denny Kearney both notched power play goals, but that couldn’t make up for the hole that was dug in the penalty-filled second period.

It’s a difficult ending for the Eli, who completed the best year in the school’s history at 28-7-1. The loss also extends the ECAC drought at the Frozen Four, having not placed a team onto college hockey’s biggest stage since Cornell in 2003. No ECAC team has won a national title since Harvard in 1989.

Minnesota-Duluth (24-10-6) on the other hand, will get to skate for a national championship as close to home as possible in St. Paul, Minn., beginning on April 7. Sandelin was noticeably excited to have emerged from a region where few gave them a chance, having to face both the ECAC regular season champ in Union and the league’s playoff champ and overall tournament top seed in the final.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our team,” Sandelin said. “We grinded out two wins against two good hockey teams. Coming into the tournament, nobody gave us a lot of credit.

“I think this group is pretty focused. They know [winning the regional] is great but they know this isn’t it. We’re going there to win.”

Video: Minnesota-Duluth news conference:

Video: Yale news conference:

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  • GAB

    Sandelin and his staff did an excellent job this weekend preparing the Bulldgos for a some tough ECAC competition. Congratulations on reaching the Frozen Four but there is more good fortune to come. Go BULLDOGS!!!

  • EliBlue

    Disappointed Yale fan, and this year I can’t feel consolation that they got this far. There was more promise than what was shown tonight. But first off, congratulations to a very disciplined, hard working, quick UMD team. I was very impressed seeing them live twice for the first time ever.

    The call on O’Neill was dubious, but let’s be honest, had Yale not been in a 3-0 hole I’d buy into it more. Yale dominated the first period and was so bad in the second they had no excuses about bad penalties. Cahill, Dueck, Peel, Laganiere all had dumb penalties tonight. O’Neill’s first penalty looked a lot like the one that got the good extraordinaire in Pittsburgh suspended.

    Yale had no one to blame but themselves especially on the shorty and the goal that made it 3-0. After that, with the parade to the box (then it got excessive) the referees guaranteed no comeback.

    Bitter pill because with 9 impact seniors graduating Yale will have so many holes to fill that it’s likely at least two years before Yale is able to be much more than a 4-6 ranked team in the ECAC.

    That said, thanks to the graduating class. I still recall Jimmy Martin’s first game, as well as the low expectations for the program at the time of transition from Taylor to Allain.

    Good job in this playoffs to Laganiere and Miller, and extra effort award goes to Limbert.

    • Pinner

      Thanks Eli…as a UMD dogs fan…i can say it was a questionable call…..dogs did take the opportunity and did convert though….it was obvious, yale was a very talented team with a lot of speed, and as a UMD fan, feel very fortunate moving on from this region…..

    • Jdorf40

      There were some undisciplined penalties yesterday, but as much as I wanted to see UMD take it to them, I really didn’t think that the O’Neill hit warranted a major and an ejection (they really need to alter that rule to more of an “intent to injure” or double minor type). Yes, it was 3-0 at the time, but there was a lot of game left.
      I don’t want to sound like a douche bag, but the fact that the ECAC didn’t do well in the tourney isn’t really all that shocking. The conference as a whole lacks the depth that ultimately improves a team like Yale over the course of a season. Yale has some insane firepower on their team, but they’re strength of schedule hurt them I think. If you’re not consistently playing superior competition, then you’re not going to get any better. Yale pretty much walked thru their schedule for the first half of the year. During the second half, the teams in their own conference were starting to improve and find ways to beat them. Meanwhile, Yale didn’t have the same improvement curve because they weren’t really playing anybody that would make them better. I’m not trying to downplay Yale either. They’re scary good, but by playing a weak schedule I truly think it hurts a team like that when it comes tourney time. Every team that they’d have faced in the tourney aside from Air Force was going to be a lot more battle tested than they were.
      In a combined 4 games played in the tourney by the ECAC, they scored a total of 5 goals (all by Yale who got to play 2 games), went 3-28 on the power play and allowed 7 pp goals on 27 chances. Union, who won the regular season title in the ECAC went 0-9 on the PP and RPI went 0-8. Not pretty. Special teams and goaltending is what ultimately ends up determining who proceeds in these tourneys as the competition is usually pretty darn close. But those stats are just awful for the ECAC.

    • collegehockeyfan

      Yale really looked like a good team, fast and creative! But they also did look like they hadn’t been there before, and to put yourself down 3-0 early, penalty or not, kills the wind out of your sails.

    • Umdbhik

      Keith Allain is a solid coach and will have Yale in the mix for some time to come. Furthermore, lining up more nonconference games against premier programs like BC, UND, etc. will only help come March and April. Yale’s schedule this year did not prepare them for this tournament.

  • jackconnolly4hobey

    Go dogs GO!!!!!!

  • Jack_frost

    O-V-E-R R-A-T-E-D!!!

    Struggled to beat the last team into the tourney…took overtime to beat them. Then got it handed to them the next night.

    • GeauxSioux

      Agreed.

  • titletown

    It looks like the ECAC was not all the rankings claimed it to be. Nothing against Yale, but this just proves that PWR is only as good as the inputs it gets. UMD is good team, but they are not a perennial powerhouse. If an ECAC team could not make it out of that bracket, it’s time to re-look the way they do rankings.

    • Siouxper Fan

      Good comment, Titletown. The PWR cares too much about wins and not so much about the teams you schedule to play against. Yale had lots of wins, but they played too many lackluster opponents. Like I’ve been harping earlier, you can beat any team at any time, but to do it time and time again is the difference. That’s why I like the KRACH and RPI rankings better than the PWR. Yale was at the top ONLY because they won against crappy teams.

      I back these comments up by showing the SOS (Strength of Schedule) in the KRACH. 80% of the teams with the top SOS are in the WCHA. That is why UM-D came out on top last night. They play tough teams every week of the season. You don’t see the teams in the WCHA schedule UAH, Clarkson, Army, etc. We don’t need those teams to rise up on the PWR.

      To UM-D; you did your jobs this weekend. I was cheering for you all the way through. You did the WCHA proud. Had they split Denver / UND up in the brackets the WCHA would be sitting three of the four teams in the Frozen Four once AGAIN!!

      To Yale; you were over confident of your rankings. You are a good and speedy team that met a team that had more heart when the time counted. Next year, schedule tougher non-conference games to make your ranking worthy.

      • Titletown

        I concur about the PWR and wins, but the SOS metric is another one that is subjective. BC had 7 out of conference games, 4 of those were in tournaments, so for the 3 they get to pick, they chose Denver(2) and Notre Dame, but their SOS was 26th. No credit for going out and playing the good teams except respect among most fans.

        Whose to say how “good” the middle of a conference really is. I think BU, Maine and Northeastern can compete with anybody, but since they were a couple wins shy of being PWR worthy, we’ll never know. I think they need to have “Challenges” like they do in basketball. Like Hockey East-ECAC challenge, or WCHA-CCHA challenge and have everyone square off.

        So if it’s a WCHA-HE Challenge year, BC goes out plays Minn, UMD and UND, or some other 3 that makes sense for a road trip. Likewise, UND comes East the next year and plays BC,Northeastern and Maine. Sure you could throw one cupcake in there, and things might be hard for the Alaska teams, but how about a neutral site and play all the games there? Talk about a draw!

        Then the voters could make up their minds about SOS, right now, it’s a crap shoot. The TUC rating from PWR is completely out to lunch.

    • Jdorf40

      I agree. That was not a good performance by the ECAC whatsoever. Most logical people thought that would be the case going in, but the results so far have shown that. I do think though that UMD is a very solid team. They were right in the mix in the WCHA until there were only a few weeks left and were even ranked #1 for a couple of weeks earlier in the season. I really don’t think that there’s much of a difference between the 1-6 spot in the WCHA. It really just depends on which night you play that team. I think Yale is a legitemate player in the field of 16, and in a 1 and done there are a lot of teams that can do significant damage, but the fact that they were the #1 overall seed despite that schedule shows a that there is a glaring problem with the PairWise.

    • Harvard Fan

      It’s time to dump PWR, which do not give enough weight to late-season results compared to early-season. Giving due weight to February/March results, both Cornell and Dartmouth deserved selection over Union and RPI and would have given a better account for the ECAC.

      As for the Bulldog-Bulldog matchup, I hope that officiating team doesn’t get any more assignments in this—or any—NCAA tournament.

      Harvard Fan

  • EliBlue

    Ah yes, the guys who have been dying to comment about RPI, rankings, etc. are here. And if Yale won the game, how would you be attacking them?

    Pinner, I was really impressed by the defensive play of UMD. I don’t get to see them during the year but they kept to their game plan both games. They earned their spot. Only thing I’d recommend is that next year they don’t dye their hair blonde without dyeing their beards ;)

    • Titletown

      Yale needed to make it to the Final game to prove the naysayers about their ranking. It was a soft bracket, the softest of all of them, and Yale was in their home state, that’s a lot of advantage. If you get the Overall #1, you’re going to have a target on your back, and if you really want to be considered among the elite, you have to play and beat the big boys, that means North Dakota, Denver, Minnesota, Wisconsin, BC, BU, UNH, and Maine, the teams that are there every year. Yale has had an impressive run these last couple years, but my bet is that it is a flash in the pan.

      • Jrwine

        Don Lucia should be fired at Minnesota. This should have been Minnesota’s spot. Come on Gopher Athletic Department.

        • Jackjake85

          This was not Minnesota’s year. There is no way anybody can say they should have been there this year. They stunk. But you’re right, Lucia should be fired anyway.

      • EliBlue

        Titletown get off this page. Stick to your own paranoia and fantasies on the WCHA pages and the North Dakota articles. I can enlighten you but you seem like a cretin so this is probably a waste of time.

        As a fan of Yale hockey for 20 years, I’m someone who enjoys the game the effort and the rivalries. Only the North Dakota fans are obsessed with Yale’s ranking. None of us who are season ticket holders ever saw the ranking as more than a novelty. You guys are as obsessed with it as David Hinckley believing Jodie Foster was sending him signs in Taxi Driver. Or maybe the Son of Sam getting advice from a Doberman Pinscher. Those of us who go to Ingalls thought the way the team played was great, the kids are likeable and never get into trouble and if you saw the article about Jeff Anderson recently, they’re largely bound for professional careers not hockey careers.

        We really enjoy the game and we’ve been very loyal even before this run. We’ll continue going happily and we have had hockey programs that are over a century old out in our part of the country and we are fairly sophisticated.

        Again though you would focus on PWR and RPI rather than the fun of the game. Good luck getting past the Secret Service on your big endeavor. Or maybe you’ll go after Lindsay Lohan. You’re a bizarre loser who probably came from a dysfunctional family, maybe a divorce, maybe your or your dad wrestled with feelings about guys, or you can only fill your self esteem hole with bullying. Or you might just be nuts.

        • Titletown

          You asked a question in your post and I answered, “what if Yale had won?”. What I said is probably the be view of most.The truth hurts. I don’t focus on PWR, College hockey does.

          Not sure who I “bullied”, I don’t recall throwing personal insults your way. You discredit Yale with your remarks.

        • Jdorf40

          I agree with Titletown Eli. The reason that I (as a Sioux fan) was irked by the rankings was that Yale wasn’t as deserving of a #1 seed anymore than at least 2, possibly 3 teams that didn’t earn one. Yes, they racked up a bunch of wins in the first half of the season, but they lost to some terrible hockey teams down the stretch and it didn’t affect them at all. Since January 1st they didn’t have a single victory against any team that actually made the tournament and actually lost to Brown and St. Lawrence X2. Who cares if you played CC one time over the course of the year and beat them? Play them back to back nights and do it against 2 or 3 teams in the WCHA or CCHA and you’ve got yourself a legitimate argument. By handing them the #1 seed they basically put the best 2 teams in the country on the same side of the bracket, being UND and BC. This selection sent BC across the country to play in what I thought was the toughest regional (although, with UNH being at home as a 4 seed, that was a brutal regional that Miami was dealt), and having to pair Denver in the same bracket as UND. Maybe some day when Yale actually plays a top 20 schedule and beats 2 or 3 top 10 teams nationally (and not in the ECAC like Union or RPI) over the course of a season, only to be shipped across the country to play a host that’s painted as a 4 seed you will understand.

        • http://profiles.google.com/emploch Eric Ploch

          hey man im a yale fan too but no need to stoop that low with some of the stuff you said

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HL7BFCVOMSCZ4ES3FMRHERFVNM Mike

    EliBlue, that seems like an awful lot of pent up hostility for such a sophisticated guy. Being a lifelong UMD Bulldog fan I rarely respect anything a Sioux fan has to say either, but I’ll always respect his right to say it.

    I think all that name calling and rationalization says that you’re in to it for a little more than just “the fun of the game”.

    I’m guessing that when you look in the mirror, you see (using your type of movie metaphor) Johnny Ringo.

    Yup, that was a flashy post, but in the end, no substance.

    And by the way, what’s wrong with his dad’s feelings about men?

    • titletown

      Mike, the best part is that I’m not a Sioux fan, but people’s own notions about who is critical of the PWR led them to believe that I am one. If you look at my posts, at no point do claim to love the Sioux, quite the contrary, actually, but my comments about who is good are meant to be objective, and that was achieved.

      Yeah, I am guessing that my dad had feelings for at least one woman, at least once. I’m no doctor, though, just a theory.

  • SickofWristShotHockey

    The two Brians should be bannished to mite hockey. Brian Hill and Brian Aaron, “referee’s” for the M-D / Yale game, took a collision by two players and made it into a massive penalty to Yale. Why didn’t both players go off? I saw the hit and said “so what, it’s a collision”. Like the crappy call that doomed U N-O to Meat-Chicken, we all know the NCAA HAD to have a representative from Minnesota at their frozen four…one way or another. Yale got boned…so did UNO. Officiating in this sport has hit new lows in this years tournament and players are becoming so SOFT.