College Hockey:
Root power-play goal proves game-winner as Yale upsets North Dakota

— After two periods of hockey in which the Yale Bulldogs trailed North Dakota, 1-0, while outshooting their opponent, 25-16, Yale was finally rewarded with a breakout of goals in the third period. A 4-1 win secured Yale a spot to the Frozen Four for the first time since 1952.

North Dakota got on the score sheet first when Corban Knight scored his 16th goal of the season. The game would remain 1-0 for the next 37 minutes and 34 seconds, when the Bulldogs blizted North Dakota with four unanswered tallies.

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“It’s difficult to walk into a press conference a few minutes after your season ends and put this season into perspective,” said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol. “Yale played an outstanding hockey game. There were ebbs and flows, but they kept the pressure on us.”

Toward the end of the first period, Yale was buzzing around the North Dakota net. The Bulldogs outshot their opponents, 11-8, in that period, despite the one-goal deficit.

The second period saw a similar control of play from Yale, as it put 14 shots on net, compared to North Dakota’s eight.

“They are a pressure team and they spent the first eight minutes of the second period putting on the pressure, not letting us get out of our zone, getting pucks in deep,” said Hakstol.

North Dakota’s players nearly felt smothered by the Yale team. North Dakota’s frustration translated into five penalties, with their opponents scoring on one of the man advantage opportunities.

“They did a good job of pressuring pucks all over the ice, made it difficult,” said North Dakota’s Dillon Simpson. “Bouncing pucks and stuff like that made it really hard for us to settle down and make a play. Seems like when you looked up, there were a lot of Yale jerseys in your face. They pressured pucks well and got pucks deep.”

Going into the third period, down by a goal and not getting rewarded for the numerous chances throughout the game, Yale did not give up.

“The message was to keep doing what you’re doing,” Yale coach Keith Allain explained. “I think I said if we got one, we’d get four.”

He was quite right.

In the third period, the Bulldogs found their offense and exploded. At 12:25, senior Josh Balch scored an even-strength tally to tie the game, 1-1.

“Yale had a pretty good third period, and it put us back on our heels,” Hakstol said. “It ultimately pushed us toward our undoing.”

Jesse Root, who was the hero in the semifinal game the day before, scored the game-winning goal with less than five minutes left in the third period. The goal was assisted by Andrew Miller and Tommy Fallen.

Root gave his teammates all the credit in him scoring two goals on a big stage.

“They’re (the goals) both sweet; any time you get to move on is really special,” Root explained. “It’s not the go-ahead goal if Josh doesn’t score and [Malcolm] doesn’t play great in net. There’s a lot leading up to that that made that happen.”

With only 2:40 left in the game Stu Wilson all but secured a win as he scored his ninth goal of the season. Kenny Agostino then scored an empty-net goal, punching Yale’s ticket to the Frozen Four.

Yale will face the winner of the NCAA Northeast Regional in Pittsburgh on April 11, 2013. They look forward to taking their talents to the big stage.

Getting to the Frozen Four is especially rewarding for the senior class. The veteran players have been to the NCAA tournament three out of the last four years, never making it out of regionals.

“It’s an accomplishment; it’s a great accomplishment for any team,” explained senior Andrew Miller. “We have been close, but getting over the hump and actually doing it is a great feeling.”

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