Denny Kearney's two goals Saturday night might not put him on level footing with his sister Hannah, who won Olympic gold for skiing moguls in Vancouver last month, but they did put Yale in Sunday's regional final.
Kearney scored the game's first two goals to give the Bulldogs a lead no one expected them to have against a powerhouse like North Dakota. The Hanover, N.H., native made it 1-0 less than six minutes into the first, when he tipped Thomas Dignard's slapper over the shoulder of Fighting Sioux goalie Brad Eidsness.
While that was a simple, gritty goal, his second tally 12:49 into the second was of the pretty, jaw-dropping variety. Kearney took a pass from Kevin Limbert and cut to the net from the left circle. As he got to the crease, he faked like he was going backhand, but then stopped on a dime and slid it inside the left post while Eidsness was out of position after biting on the deke.
"I got a couple of nice passes from teammates," Kearney said. "Tom Dignard had a nice shot on the first one and I was just able to get a stick on it. And then Kevin Limbert found me with a really nice feed on the second and luckily I was able to finish."
Although Yale has the top-ranked offense in the nation, consistent scoring hasn't been a guarantee of late thanks to the absence of third-leading scorer Sean Backman, who broke his heel the week before the ECAC playoffs began.
In the ECAC quarterfinals against Brown, a series Yale lost two games to one, coach Keith Allain juggled his lines around to try and find something that worked. It worked to the tune of six goals in the one win, but it produced just two goals in the two combined losses.
Despite the inconsistency, Allain said he has confidence in his top line of Kearney, Limbert and Broc Little despite the fact that on paper, Limbert's seven points this season don't exactly fit in with Kearney's 34 and Little's 40.
"That line is fantastic," Allain said. "It was an easy transition to put Kevin [Limbert] on that line because he was with those two guys last year."
If that line can continue its strong play against Boston College, the Bulldogs could be headed to their first Frozen Four. And if they can win two more games there, Kearney will have a national championship ring that will bring him a little closer to matching up with his sister.