Yale hockey has been around longer than any college team in the country, with roots that date back to 1893.
In all those years -- more than a century of hockey -- the Bulldogs never won a national title.
Until the Pittsburgh Frozen Four.
Yale beat longtime rival Quinnipiac 4-0 at Consol Energy Center Saturday night, breaking open the game after scoring a critical goal with 3.5 seconds left in the second period that opened a 0-0 tie.
Confetti fell from the rafters and sticks and gloves littered the ice a little before 10 p.m. with a new champion celebrating.
Clinton Bourbonais tipped the puck through Eric Hartzell's five-hole with 3.5 seconds until the break.
Hartzell, the Hobey Baker finalist, had just gone behind the net to clear a shot and was positioned on the corner of the crease facing the shooter when the puck made a last second change of direction.
The shot came from Gus Young just above the left circle at the wall and had the makings of a routine odd-angle shot until it was deflected.
Just seconds earlier, a message flashed on the jumbotron that the last national title game to be scoreless heading into the third period was more than three decades ago.
Seconds later, Yale took the critical first lead.
Just 3:35 into the second period, Charles Orzetti finished his own rebound to give Yale a 2-0 lead, striking through Hartzell's five-hole a second time in one game on a wrister from the left circle.
Andrew Miller then made it 3-0 at 9:06 of the third period on a breakaway, and Mt. Lebanon's Jesse Root scored into an empty net at 13:02.
Both teams had lengthy 5-on-3 power plays in the second period, borne from too many men on the ice penalties, but neither converted.
Neither team scored in the first period but had their chances on two power plays apiece.
Hartzell turned away a sharp wrister by Tommy Fallen about a minute into the game and gloved a shot on Yale's first power play that zipped through traffic.
Yale goalie Jeff Malcom had a few key saves, as well.
He knocked his own rebound up and over the back of the goal with his stick and then thwarted a breakaway attempt by Matthew Peca, who released from a tough angle with less than four minutes to play in the first.
The two teams play in the same conference -- the ECAC -- and Quinnipiac had beaten Yale three times this year.
Quinnipiac Coach Rand Pecknold talked repeatedly about how difficult a fourth victory would be leading up to the match, and that proved to be true.
Yale's run to the final nearly didn't happen.
The Bulldogs were the 16th and final team to earn a berth to the NCAA tournament, finding their way in.
They then knocked off Minnesota and North Dakota to reach the Frozen Four and ousted heavily favored Massachusetts Lowell on Thursday night in the semifinal to get to Saturday night's title game.
Prior to this week, the 1952 Yale hockey team was the last to reach the final four of college hockey, but finished third.
First Published April 14, 2013 2:00 AM