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PITTSBURGH -- Yale senior forward and captain Andrew Miller sat in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinal postgame press conference wearing a gold Jofa helmet, a team award given out after games.
It could have been mistaken for a crown.
Not long before he sat on that stage in the bowels of CONSOL Energy Center, Miller was a king after scoring what head coach Keith Allain called, before what might occur Saturday night, the biggest goal in the history of Yale hockey during the Bulldogs' 3-2 overtime victory over UMass Lowell.
The winner of Quinnipiac/St. Cloud State awaits Yale on Saturday night in the national championship, their first such game in school history.
But Yale's championship dreams almost disappeared in the blink of an eye in the second period. Lowell quickly got out to a 2-0 lead after the opening period and thought they had stolen the momentum when Riley Wetmore and Joe Pendenza scored 14 seconds apart to tie the game.
Losing the lead in 14 seconds in the biggest game of your season could fluster some teams, but as Allain has preached all season long Yale didn't deviate from their gameplan.
"I've been involved in enough hockey games in my life where I've seen and been with teams that outplay other teams and for one reason or the other don't get the bounce," said Allain.
"I also believe that was the right approach for us, if we stuck with the plan the odds would favor our team breaking through, and that's what happened. Until you get the goal, you're always wondering when it's going to come."
Everything that had been successful for Lowell in the run up to the semifinal was falling flat against a resilient Yale team. The River Hawks were unable to establish a successful forecheck and attributed a poor skating game as one reason they couldn't grab momentum.
"We had no response," said Lowell head coach Norm Bazin. "It was one of those games, the magic wasn't there tonight."
"We've ended three or four teams' seasons in the last couple weeks. Unfortunately, it's our turn."
Yale followed their leader and they now have one game left in their season and in his college career. Allain has seen his captain grow into the leader he is today, so it was no surprise to see Miller play hero in Yale's biggest moment.
"Andrew has been a great player for us all four years," said Allain. "He's made a remarkable transformation into a leadership [role] this year, assuming the captaincy and the way he's done it by including the entire senior class. He just does a great job with our group, not just on the ice, but he monitors them off the ice.
"I can tell you, I couldn't ask for a better captain."
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy