Yale University defenseman GUS YOUNG (2), the junior out of Dedham, Massachusetts, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the seventh round (# 184 overall) of the 2010 National Hockey League Draft, stretches to poke check the puck away from Minnesota captain ZACH BUDISH (24), the homegrown senior right wing from Edina who was chosen by the Nashville Predators in the second round (# 41 overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft, during the NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament first round contest watched by the paltry crowd of 2,289 spectators at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
A carelessly-played puck that was cleverly intercepted behind the net led directly to a lightining-quick goal just nine seconds into the overtime session as # 15 YALE UNIVERSITY pulled off a shocking 3-2 upset over the five-time national champion UNIVERSITY of MINNESOTA to open the 2013 NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament in sensational fashion.
On paper, the West Regional semifinal contest between the upstart Bulldogs, who had been blanked in both of their games at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference final tournament in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and the # 2 ranked Gophers appeared to be a bit of a mismatch in both contemporary and historical terms. Whereas Yale had three skaters who have been drafted by National Hockey League clubs in uniform for the NCAA first round clash in Grand Rapids, Michigan, no fewer than 14 players plus the starting goaltender for Minnesota have already been reserved by NHL teams. Furthermore, no college hockey program on the planet has more NCAA tournament victories under its belt than the mighty proud Gophers.
Indeed, the traditional powerhouse from the Land of 10,000 Lakes has produced 25 First Team (West) All-America players, four of whom also won the coveted Hobey Baker Award presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate ice hockey player, while no less than 93 University of Minnesota players, to date, have gone on to skate at least one professional contest in the world-class NHL after leaving the Minneapolis campus.
Yale University’s uncompromising defenseman GUS YOUNG (2) lands a solid blow to the chin of Minnesota center NICK BJUGSTAD (27), the homegrown junior from Blaine who was the first round pick (# 19 overall) of the Florida Panthers at the 2010 NHL Draft, during the surprising opening contest of this year’s 2013 NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament.
Yale University, meanwhile, qualified for its first NCAA tournament more than six decades ago back in 1952 and proudly points to eight First Team (East) All-America selections in school history but actually only won its very first game at the annual NCAA tournament as recently as 2010. Since head coach KEITH ALLAIN was brought on board ahead of the 2006/07 campaign, the Bulldogs have undoubtedly been enjoying the Ivy League institution’s most successful era on ice ever. Four NCAA tournament appearances in the past five seasons by Yale, who have graduated a total of 14 players to the NHL through the years, serve as testament to that fact.
Yale, to review, has now skated at the annual NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament a grand total of six times in school history.
Allain is actually a product of the Yale program, himself, having been a goaltender for four seasons in the late 1970s under long-time Bulldog bench boss TIM TAYLOR. After graduating from Yale in the spring of 1980, the 54-year-old native of Worcester, Massachusetts, eventually went on to work with a pair of NHL clubs, serving as an assistant coach of the Washington Capitals for four seasons and as the goaltending coach of the St. Louis Blues for three years. Under the astute direction of Allain, Yale set a new school record for wins (24) during the 2008/09 season and then re-set that same mark yet again (28) only two years later.
Minnesota left wing KYLE RAU (7), the homegrown sophomore from Eden Prairie who was the third round pick (# 91 overall) of the Florida Panthers at the 2011 NHL Draft, is stopped at close range by Yale University’s senior Canadian legionnaire JEFF MALCOLM (33) as Bulldog defensemen THOMAS FALLEN (22), the sophomore from Plymouth, Minnesota, and RYAN OBUCHOWSKI (14), the freshman from Canton, Michigan, look to clear the rebound during the West Regional semifinal contest at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Minnesota, who will, in part, always be known for having supplied head coach Herb Brooks and seven Gopher players to the United States national team that famously won the Olympic gold medal at the Lake Placid Games in 1980, started off well enough against Yale in the 2013 NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament opener and quickly generated the contest’s first three shots on goal.
Yale, however, had the next half dozen as the undisciplined Gophers had two different players skate to the penalty box within the game’s first four minutes. The Bulldogs did not capitalize on either of the power play opportunities, although Yale did come extremely close. A fierce one-timer from Bulldogs right wing ANDREW MILLER, the undrafted senior from Bloomfield Hills in Michigan, slammed into the goalpost before bouncing harmlessly away.
Minnesota had its chance with the man-advantage when Yale defenseman RYAN OBUCHOWSKI was dispatched to the sin bin for interference in the first period but the Gophers were ineffective. Head coach DON LUCIA’s charges were also a bit unlucky, as well, when a shot caromed off the pads of Yale senior netminder JEFF MALCOLM, the Canadian legionnaire from Lethbridge, Alberta, and then onto the goalpipe. Nevertheless, it would be the Ivy Leaguers who led their WCHA counterparts 11-7 in the shots-on-goal department when the first period of play was completed.
Yale killed off another penalty early in the second period before finally scoring the team’s first goal in more than 132 minutes of post-season playoff hockey this spring.
Bulldogs defenseman ROB O’GARA, the freshman from Massapequa, New York, who was tabbed in the fifth round (# 151 overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins, headmanned the puck to Miller streaking up the right side of the ice. Once inside the offensive zone, the second leading scorer for Yale with 36 points in 34 NCAA games this season patiently waited for KENNY AGOSTINO, the fifth round (# 140 overall) pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2010 NHL Draft, to come free late in the slot. A clinical top-shelf finish by the junior from Flanders, New Jersey, left Minnesota backstop ADAM WILCOX absolutely no chance whatsoever.
Agostino’s 16th goal of the season tied Miller for the leadership on the Yale squad this term while snapping the scoreless deadlock at the 7:08 mark of the middle period.
In another 16 seconds, though, the Bulldogs would be shorthanded again as a result of Canadian legionnaire ANTOINE LAGANIERE being caught for hooking a Minnesota player. And, not so long after that penalty expired, the Yale parade to the penalty box continued as Canadian legionnaire COLIN DUECK, the senior defenseman by way of Calgary, Alberta, received two minutes for holding. But the Gophers power play was just not in synch as Minnesota remained scoreless despite four cracks at skating with the extra attacker.
Yale University defenseman GUS YOUNG (2) wrists a puck goalward bound …
In what was developing into the quintessential low-scoring struggle, the Bulldogs struck for what appeared to be a massive insurance goal with a little over four and half minutes remaining in the second period.
Yale defenseman MATT KILLIAN, the 19-year-old sophomore from Basking Ridge, New Jersey, who has missed a considerable amount of time this season on account of injury, had his shot at the point snuffed out by the Minnesota defense but Bulldogs center CLINTON BOURBONAIS, the homegrown junior from Colchester, gained possession of the loose puck near the blue line. A little pass back to the point enabled stay-at-home Yale defenseman GUS YOUNG to wrist a seeing-eye puck through a maze of players and past the Gophers netminder Wilcox. Young’s second goal of this 2012/13 term (and fifth, overall, in three seasons skating for the Bulldogs) seemingly left the Gophers with a genuine mountain to climb.
After all, # 15 Yale did outshoot # 2 Minnesota by the not-so-close count of 20-15 over the course of the first two periods of play at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
Minnesota defenseman SETH HELGESON (4), the homegrown senior from Fairbault who was the fourth round selection (# 114 overall) of the New Jersey Devils at the 2009 National Hockey League Draft, hammers Yale University’s Canadian legionnaire ANTOINE LAGANIERE (28), the undrafted senior right wing from Ile Cadieux, Quebec, who has scored 33 goals for the Bulldogs the past two seasons combined, during the NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament opener at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
By the time the puck dropped for the third and final period of play in the NCAA tournament opener with Yale, the punchless Gophers had now gone more than 109 minutes of post-season playoff hockey without having scored a goal, themselves. Minnesota, of course, had been blanked by Colorado College at the semifinal stage of the WCHA tournament before arriving in Grand Rapids. But once the Bulldogs defenseman Dueck was boxed for his second minor infraction of the contest, the Gophers were finally able put a puck in the back of the net at the Van Andel Arena.
Minnesota defenseman NATE SCHMIDT, the homegrown junior from St. Cloud who led all Gopher blueliners with nine goals this season, floated a dipping wrist shot from the point on the power play that handcuffed the Yale netminder Malcolm and halved the Bulldogs’ lead at the 8:12 mark of the last period.
Sufficently energized and awoken from the long goal-scoring slumber, the Gophers continued to press their attack. Indeed, Minnesota would go on to double-up Yale 12-6 in the shots-on-goal category over the final twenty minutes of play as the Bulldogs were definitely now back on their heels. The Gophers pulled level with only 6:20 remaining after Finnish import ERIK HAULA, the junior center who was tabbed by the in-state Minnesota Wild in the seventh round (# 182 overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft and was soon to be joining the ranks of the professionals in North America, sent a precise pass from behind the to net out in front for linemate ZACH BUDISH.
The smooth re-direction from Budish, one of five different Gophers to top double-digits in goal-scoring this season, saw to it that overtime in Grand Rapids would be required to settle this particular matter.
Yale University center JESSE ROOT (20), the undrafted junior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who finished as the fifth leading scorer with 24 points (seven goals) for the Bulldogs as a sophomore last season, chases after Minnesota’s homegrown defenseman NATE SCHMIDT (29), the undrafted junior from St. Cloud who would sign a professional contract with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League shortly after the Gophers’ elimination from the NCAA tournament, during the West Regional semifinal contest at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
And so it was time for a moment of Minnesota Gophers’ ice hockey history that will forever live in infamy.
After the Gophers had won the opening face-off of the overtime session, Minnesota defenseman BEN MARSHALL controlled the puck and routinely skated backwards into his own zone on the right. Nearing the goal line, the homegrown sophomore from Mahtomedi who was taken by the Detroit Red Wings in the seventh round (# 201 overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft then attempted to bank the puck off the boards behind the net for his defense partner. But the pass lacked sufficient pace off the bounce and the enterprising Agostino darted in for Yale to steal the puck behind the cage. A quick feed out front for Bulldog center JESSE ROOT allowed the junior from Pittsburgh to pot what was, perhaps, the most important goal ever scored in the history of Yale ice hockey.
Many experts believe Root’s tally to be the fastest overtime goal ever recorded in the entire 65-year history of the NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament.
Minnesota netminder ADAM WILCOX (32), the workhorse freshman from South St. Paul who appeared in all but one of the Gophers’ forty collegiate contests this season (39 ga, 1.88 avg, .921 svpct), rests dejectedly on one knee as Yale University players excitedly rush to congratulate the not-pictured overtime goal-scoring hero Jesse Root after the undrafted native of Pittsburgh tallied to knock the five-time national champion out of this year’s 2013 NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament.
NCAA West Regional Semifinal
Van Andel Arena – Grand Rapids, Michigan
YALE 3 – MINNESOTA 2 … (overtime)
27:08 … YALE – Agostino 16 (Miller, O’Gara)
35:28 … YALE – Young 2 (Bourbonais, S. Wilson) – ppg
48:12 … MINN – Schmidt 9 (Haula, Rau) – ppg
53:40 … MINN – Budish 14 (Haula)
60:09 … YALE – Root 10 (Agostino)
MINNESOTA : Wilcox – Helgeson, Marshall ; Reilly, Alt ; Skjei, Schmidt – Rau, Bjugstad, Condon ; Warning, Haula, Budish ; Serratore, Boyd, Ambroz ; Parenteau, Isackson, Holl
YALE : Malcolm – Young, O’Gara ; Fallen, Obuchowski ; Dueck, Witek – Agostino, Root, Miller ; Orzetti, Bourbonais, Laganiere ; Balch, S. Wilson, Day ; Ruffolo, Cooper, Killian