Despite the presence of three Greater Trail players on the Quinnipiac Bobcats’ roster, at least one local Ivy Leaguer was pulling for the Yale Bulldogs as they shutout the Bobcats 4-0 to win the NCAA championship game Saturday.
Fruitvale native and Beaver Valley Nitehawk assistant coach Kevin Limbert is a recent Yale graduate who enjoyed a very successful four-year university career with the Bulldogs, and was suitably impressed with the result.
“That was something spectacular, it was really cool to see that,” said Limbert. “It would have been cool if it happened a year or two earlier, but what can you do.”
The former Trail Smoke Eater graduated from Yale in May, receiving NCAA All-Academic team honours four years in a row. During Limbert’s playing time, the Bulldogs led the ECAC on two occasions, and made three appearances in the tournament, but could not breach the Frozen Four.
This year, Yale entered the tournament an unheralded 15th seed.
“It was a little bit surprising, they had a bit of a speed bump in January, but I mean the program has been heading in that direction in the last five or six years, and I think I was a little more surprised to not see this happen sooner,” said Limbert.
Despite the unfavourable seed, the Bulldogs proved there was still some bite to their bark as they ousted the top seeds, North Dakota and Minnesota, on their way to a 3-2 semifinal overtime win against University of Massachusettes-Lowell.
“To barely squeak in like that might have even helped them a bit. They were playing with no pressure, they came in hot too . . . so I think it worked out.”
“Connor messaged me on Facebook and I said, ‘I feel guilty wishing you good luck, but all the same good luck,’” said Limbert.
It was the first national championship for Yale in its 117 year history, and the first time two ECAC teams vied for the crown.
“It was really cool to see the two ECAC teams . . . they don’t get nearly as much respect, so it was good to see.”
Yale’s Clint Bourbonais netted the winner when he redirected a shot between goalie Eric Hartzell’s legs with four seconds left in the second period, and freshman Charles Orzetti scored his first goal in four months 3:35 into the third to make it 2-0.
Andrew Miller, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, then broke loose and flipped a backhand by Hartzell for his 18th goal of the season.
Pittsburgh native Jesse Root added an empty netter to set the coronation in motion.
“It was pretty cool,” said Limbert. “I was actually somewhat surprised at how much of a connection I felt to that. I felt a lot of admiration and pride, as an alumni; a lot more than I expected, to tell you the truth.”