RONDEAU MAKES 34 SAVES, KEARNEY NETS PAIR
WORCESTER, Mass. – During last Sunday’s NCAA men’s college hockey selection show, the announcers noted that the Northeast Regional should come down to a finale that includes Boston College and North Dakota. They were right on one of those national powers, but they forgot about the third highly ranked squad in the field, No. 9 Yale. Ryan Rondeau, making his first start since Nov. 21, stopped 34 of 36 shots and Denny Kearney hit the net twice as the Bulldogs shocked the No. 5 Fighting Sioux before 6,572 at the DCU Center in the Yale program’s greatest win.
The Bulldogs (21-9-3), who earned a first-ever post-season meeting with Boston College in the regional final Sunday at 5:30 p.m. E.T., grabbed a rare win while being outshot (37-23). It was just the second time this year Yale won when the opponent put more shots on net. The 23 shots were the second fewest this year and the fewest in a Yale win.
The Bulldogs, 2-3 all-time in NCAA play, notched their first tournament victory since beating St. Lawrence, 4-1, in the consolation of the 1952 tournament. North Dakota has won eight national titles.
“I’m really proud of our guys with the way they competed tonight, the way they stuck to our game plan. We knew North Dakota, with the quality of the players and their coaching staff, that they weren’t going to go away,” said Keith Allain ’80, Yale’s Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach of Hockey.
Rondeau, a junior who had not played since the Bulldogs were at Brown late in the fall, had a dozen stops in the first, six in the second and 16 in the third. It was his fourth win against a nationally ranked team.
“It’s really no different than anything we have been doing all year long,” said Allain in reference to his choice in goal. “One of the things I told the team after we got knocked out in the conference tournament was that the goaltender who deserved to play after these two weeks of practice was going to play. It was an open competition and Ryan won the competition.”
Sophomore Brad Eidsness, who made 20 saves in the UND net, probably didn’t expect the Bulldogs to reach their season average of 40 shots, even as the nation’s highest scoring team. He gave up the game’s first three goals in the first 40 minutes before the Sioux made a third-period surge.
“We kind of knew we were playing with house money a little bit. Not too many people were expecting too much out of us, but I think we did a good job with that role. We played a little bit looser than we did two weekends ago [ECACs],” said Yale captain Ryan Donald.
The Fighting Sioux(25-13-5) had the advantage in shots (12-8) in the first period but the Bulldogs had the only goal. Both teams had three grade-A scoring chances and a pair of scoreless power-play attempts.
Tom Dignard’s shot from the top of the left circle was re-directed by Kearney over the shoulder of Eidsness at 5:48 to make it 1-0. It was the bounce of the puck that Yale needed to plant the seed of doubt in the minds of the UND players.
The Elis had a solid power-play attempt coming out for the middle period but did not break the goal line. A few minutes after killing off the advantage, UND came up with its best opportunity. Darcy Zajac wheeled and fired a low shot from the left circle that required Rondeau to extend his leg and grab the puck in one motion.
After a few great opportunities to create some distance from the No. 2 seed, the Bulldogs finally made it 2-0 at 12:49 of the second. Kevin Limbert fed Kearney over the blueline and the junior winger did the rest. Kearney, with a defender moving over to cover another winger, had an open path to the net but not much of angle to work with. That’s why he deked left, right and then went left with a fore-hand tuck under an extended pad for his 11th goal of the year.
“ I had a couple of nice passes from teammates,” said Kearney, who enjoyed his third multiple-goal game of the year. “Tom [Dignard] made a great shot on the first one and I was able to put my stick on it and Kevin [Limbert] also made a nice feed. I was put in a great situation and was able to finish.”
UND could smell its first goal of the game late in the middle frame. Zajac broke free from the Yale defense and was about to come in alone on Rondeau when captain Ryan Donald pulled him down from behind with 4:12 left. The referee behind the goal line immediately signaled for a penalty shot, and you knew the senior center was salivating at the chance. Zajac took the puck from center ice and came into the middle slot before firing a hard wrist shot off the left post. Rondeau had come out initially but settled back and was not providing much of an angle.
Other than that scary moment, the Yale defense played 40 minutes of solid hockey and really limited UND’s looks at the net.
That play turned into momentum for the Bulldogs to notch their third goal. O’Neill crossed over the UND blueline with speed and left it for Arcobello. The senior center rifled a shot wide right but followed the puck, which bounced off the boards and came out to the side of the cage. Arcobello got their first and slipped a tricky shot inside the near post at 17:46 for his 12th tally of the season and a 3-0 lead.
Once again, both teams had three grade-A chances over the 20 minutes, but this time the Elis had more (10-7) shots. The last Yale tally may have appeared insignificant at the time.
The Sioux finally broke through 2:59 into the third when winger Brett Hextall (14th goal) skated across the left circle and wristed a rising shot over Rondeau’s glove. It was a true “sniper” shot.
Almost three minutes later, North Dakota found another seam and cut the margin to one. Matt Frattin, jumped all over a turnover at mid ice and came in ahead of Nick Jaskowiak. The Yale defender swiped at him and all he could get was body. Frattin (11th), while falling to the ice, flicked a shot inside the right post at 5:58 to make it 3-2.
“We knew they were going to come hard at the beginning of the period. So I think we just had to relax a little bit, get back to our game,” said Arcobello, who won 15 of 21 face-offs tonight. “I think we strayed from it a little in the time they scored two goals quick. We tried to refocus a little bit and get back on track.”
Frattin challenged Rondeau with under six minutes left and had two nasty shots in one sequence. The Yale netminder reacted quickly on the rebound to knock away the last attempt.
Defenseman Jimmy Martin, who played a great game, was called for tripping with 5:21 left, and the Sioux had exactly what they were looking for. The only problem was that Yale came up with its best penalty-kill of the night and limited UND to two shots on target while clearing the puck the length of the ice three times.
“We just hoped they wouldn’t get that goal in the third period as early as they did. And then they got the second one. But we reminded our guys that if they wanted to be champions they would have to go through some rough times and there would be adversity because every team we face is a quality team, and this was going to be our test, and I thought we passed it pretty well,” said Allain, a Worcester native who has led the Blue to consecutive 20-win seasons.
UND, which had all of the best scoring chances in the third and had an 18-5 shots advantage, pulled its goalie with a minute left but could not get sustained pressure on the net.
“Congratulations to Yale. They did a good job building a three goal lead and completing the game to move on to the regional final tomorrow. Quite simply on our part we picked a bad time of year to start poorly and we took a little too long to regain our style of game. We were able to do that after we scored the first goal in the third period, and get a little but more and a little bit better consistent play through that 20 minutes. It was a little too late on this day,” said UND Head Coach Dave Hakstol, whose team had won 12 of 13 heading into the NCAAs.
The Yale-BC winner heads to Detroit for the 2010 Frozen Four.
Tickets are available for Sunday’s game and can be purchased at the DCU box office tomorrow afternoon… The Yale-BC game can be seen live on ESPNU (available on Comcast, DirecTV and more) or espn360.com. Unlike the semi-final against UND, Sunday's game will not be on MyTV9 or WCTX… Ryan Rondeau has had some big games against nationally ranked teams. He made 30 saves in a 3-2 win over No. 17 Minnesota State in 2008-09 five days before beating No. 11 Air Force by the same count with 29 saves. Both of those games were at Ingalls Rink. A few weeks later at Cornell, he stopped 17 shots in a 4-3 victory over the No. 3 Big Red… Neither team hit the net on the power play; Yale was 0-3 and UND 0-4.
Story filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Image of Kearney scoring his 2nd goal (by Jack Warhola)