Goalies Rick Hartzell of Quinnipiac and Jeff Malcolm were both spectacular throughout the second period of the NCAA Frozen Four championship Saturday, as each stopped barrages of rebounds, deflections, short one-on-ones, getting run over twice each and even defending 5-on-3 power plays en route to stopping 14 shots each in the period. They were within 15.5 seconds of going into the third period of the college hockey championship with a scoreless tie for the first time in 45 years.
Malcolm would become the fifth goalie ever to register a championship shutout – a fitting birthday gift – but the next few seconds would end the shutout attempt by Hartzell.
It did not seem important when Yale won their 19th of 28 second period face-offs at center ice with 15.5 seconds left in the second period, and the Bulldogs seemed content to dump the puck in behind the net. Hartzell went behind to get it and clear the puck around the right side of the boards. However, Yale’s Gus Young was not done playing. He came on hard and got control of the puck for one last shot before the horn, and fired toward the net.
As on many other Yale threats throughout the period, an additional Yale offensive player had set up between shooter and goalie, and Clinton Bourbonais deflected the shot just slightly, sending it between the legs of Hartzell, who had just scrambled back in front of the net. The puck ended up in the back of the net with 3.5 seconds to play, and Yale took a 1-0 lead into the final intermission that would prove the game-winner.
Hartzell had just been nudged out for player of the year by Drew LeBlanc of Minnesota St. Cloud, and the one goal seemed to end the air of invincibility, particularly as Malcolm was matching him one spectacular save after another. The pressure continued to build as Malcolm stayed perfect in net.
Early in the third period, Yale’s Charles Orzetti broke down the left side of the ice with no angle and no help on another seemingly insignificant run. However, he took a hard slap shot that Hartzell blocked easily off to his right. In a game in which both keeps had prevented the other team from scoring on powerplays – even a 5-on-3 both ways, Orzetti’s 1-on-3 seemed little threat.
He regained his own rebound far to the left of the goal a full 32 feet wide of the goal and within a few feet of the boards, and at only a 10-degree angle, a spot at which it seemed easier simply to try to pass the ball around the boards, stop, or pull back from the shadowing defender and wait for help. However, when he looked to see if there was a centering opportunity and saw only two Quinnipiac defenders in front of the net, Orzetti instead fired on net despite the seemingly impossible angle.
Somehow he found a tiny spot between Hartzell and the post, scoring to make the game 2-0 just 3:35 into the final period.
Quinnipiac become more and more aggressive, and while having chances, their all-out desperation gambles once they had the two-goal lead enabled Yale to put away their first ever NCAA title.
Quinnipiac became sucked into the offensive zone and Andrew Miller broke behind them as Kenny Agostino won control put a perfect pass to Miller on the break. Miller skated more than half the ice on a breakaway, scoring to make it 3-0 at 9:06 into the final period.
In one last desperation attempt, Quinnipiac pulled Hartzell with just under eight minutes to play, and Jesse Root put in an open goal net less than a minute later to provide the final 4-0 margin.