ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. The game was over. The celebration was on. And the chants throughout the crowd on Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall were loud and obvious: "Ron-Deau!" ''Ron-Deau!"
It was the proud and passionate Yale faithful that were serenading the Bulldogs senior goaltender after a rousing 6-0 win over Cornell in the ECAC championship. Ryan Rondeau had just capped off the second of back-to-back shutouts in Atlantic City, and was the key cog in Yale's second league title in three years.
As he skated over to the podium, soaked in sweat, to pick up his trophy as the tournament's most outstanding player, his emotions did not get the best of him. After all, in six periods here, he never panicked in allowing no goals. Why would he start now?
"That's just him. He's been great for us," Yale captain Jimmy Martin said. "He's very steady. He's very calm. When another team has any sort of sustained shift, he just has that calming presence for us. We just know he's going to make the save."
Well, he made 22 on Saturday night, and Kevin Limbert scored two power-play goals in the first period, as Yale (27-6-1) all but cemented its status as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. In two days here, the Bulldogs outscored Colgate and Cornell 10-0, and they finished the league tournament at 4-1.
The NCAA field of 16 will be announced at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
"They were very obviously the better team," Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. "They operated with poise and did a tremendous job offensively. Yale definitely played the kind of hockey it takes to win a championship."
The focus now shifts to the bigger championship, though, and does Yale have what it takes to continue this run on a national stage?
"This team is determined to get to the Frozen Four," Yale coach Keith Allain said, "and hopefully win the thing."
Rondeau will be front and center, either way. He preserved his latest shutout with a shoulder save off a slapshot by John Esposito with 8:02 left in the game. Esposito was alone in the slot, but Rondeau calmly shoved away Cornell's best opportunity of the night.
A day earlier, Rondeau blanked Colgate 4-0. He is now the career single-season shutout leader at Yale.
"The team played really well in front of me," he said. "They did a great job with limiting shots, and that's what has really made things easy on me."
Yale's Antoine Laganiere and Chris Cahill put the game out of reach in the second period with even-strength goals, the last of which was a one-timer in the slot off a feed from Brian O'Neill that beat Cornell goaltender Andy Iles on the stick side. One goal later, after Yale's Colin Dueck made it 5-0 on a slapshot at 8:37 of the second, Iles' night was finished. He was replaced by Michael Garman, who posted the Big Red's 3-0 semifinal shutout over Dartmouth on Friday.
Denny Kearney had three assists for Yale, and O'Neill, Martin and Andrew Miller had two each. Broc Little concluded the scoring with a power-play wristshot that beat Garman top shelf on his left side at 17:28 of the second.
"Everything was a problem for us today," Schafer said. "You make a mistake, and you turn around, and you're already down 2-0. Yale is a great transition team, and they really gave us a lot of problems."
The Big Red (16-15-3) finished the tournament at 3-2 and are not likely to land an NCAA bid. Union, the ECAC regular-season champions, figure to make the field, and RPI, the No. 5 seed, could also receive an at-large berth.
Yale placed five of the six players on the all-tournament team, including O'Neill, Cahill, Martin, Miller and Rondeau. Dartmouth's Connor Goggin rounded out the squad. His Big Green defeated Colgate 5-3 in the consolation game.
This was the first of a three-year deal with the league and Boardwalk Hall after playing the tournament in Albany, N.Y. from 1994-2010. Attendance, which was light for all four games in Atlantic City, was not published or announced on either day.
Yale and Cornell have combined for the last three ECAC titles, with the Big Red winning last year.