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Men’s ice hockey to face St. Cloud State in NCAA Frozen Four
By Brian Farrell, QBSN Staff Writer
The countdown has finally hit zero; the Frozen Four is here. Tonight, Quinnipiac finally takes the ice against St. Cloud State in the national semifinals in Pittsburgh. For fans, it seems like an eternity since the Bobcats calmly hopped over the boards to celebrate with Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalist Eric Hartzell following the 5-1 drubbing of Union in the East Regional championship.
For Quinnipiac and St. Cloud State, they each boast a Hobey Baker Hat Trick Finalist, both representing opposite ends of the spectrum. For Quinnipiac it is the aforementioned senior goaltender representing defense and for the Huskies it is senior forward Drew LeBlanc representing offense. LeBlanc has been stellar this season with 13 goals and 37 assists good for 50 points. While Hartzell is among the nation’s best with a .933 save percentage and a 1.54 goals against average.
The Bobcats are the nation’s top ranked defense allowing just 1.63 goals per game while the Huskies are the nation’s second best offense scoring 3.41 goals per game. Something has got to give.
“The first thing that always jumps out at me [about St. Cloud State] is Coach Motzko,” Quinnipiac’s Rand Pecknold said. “I think he’s a phenomenal coach. And he’s one of the great people in the game of hockey. I’ve always been impressed with him and how he handles himself; he’s sincere.”
The question is which wall will break. Can St. Cloud State goaltender Ryan Faragher keep his team in the game enough for the Huskies to put a few past Hartzell? Faragher’s numbers are on par with many other great goaltenders, but he is certainly not Hartzell. What is great for the Huskies is that he hasn’t had to be.
“We’ve watched him get better and improve in so many areas,” Motzko said about his goaltender. “When he’s had a couple of these challenges as a goaltender to get better, he’s handled them. I think all of us ‑‑ I know all of us, not think, have complete confidence in him that he’s going to be prepared to go.
St. Cloud State boasts three players with more than 15 goals including Jonny Brodzinski who is in the top five nationally for goals scored.
“Obviously, they’re a high scoring team, high octane offense,” Quinnipiac captain Zack Currie said. “LeBlanc is a big part of that … so we’ve got to keep to our game and keep to our principles what we know helped us win, and I feel we’ll be able to handle what they’re going to throw at us.”
QBSN will have up to date scores as well as recaps of all the action. Stay tuned for a podcast after tonight’s game.
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Former teammates behind opposing benches at the Frozen Four