For Quinnipiac, the celebration of its seniors started before the puck dropped...
The War on Whitney is going worldwide
PITTSBURGH – South-central Connecticut, go ahead and pinch, poke, slap or punch yourself because you are not dreaming; Quinnipiac will take on Yale in the national championship Saturday.
After a 4-1 win over St. Cloud State in the national semifinals, the Bobcats are preparing for the biggest “War on Whitney” ever.
Quinnipiac and Yale fans could only dream that the two squads would meet for the national championship, and fans would be lying if they said they didn’t pick up a bracket and immediately jump at the possibility.
“It makes for a good story because the teams are so close in proximity but when it comes to game time it doesn’t matter what league you are in or anything like that,” Jeremy Langlois said.
Quinnipiac dominated from the puck drop scoring three first-period goals to bury the Huskies early.
“I’m very proud of my team and I actually thought that it was great when the first game went to overtime,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “We told them we need to be ready for that … we said we need to jump St. Cloud State and I thought it was an advantage for us because we were prepared for it.”
The Bobcats took the early 1-0 lead just 1:49 into the first period on Jordan Samuels-Thomas’ 17th goal of the season. After St. Cloud State’s Joey Benik was whistled for hooking, Quinnipiac went on the advantage. Just seconds into the power play, Samuels-Thomas stole the puck behind the net and put the wraparound under Huskies’ goaltender Ryan Faragher.
The third line was back at it just minutes later. Once again Samuels-Thomas wrapped around to the right post and tried to stuff another one past Faragher. Instead, the puck deflected to the bottom of the slot where Ben Arnt fired it into the back of the net.
“We had the overtime there in the game before and obviously we expected that it could be a bit of a letdown so I wanted to just get out there and get into my game,” Samuels-Thomas said. “[I wanted to] be strong on the wall, strong around the net and kind of just set the pace to get myself into the game and get the rest of my teammates into the game.”
Pecknold could not say enough about the third liner’s explosive start as it set the tone for the rest of the game.
“We talk a lot as a team not only when you have a big shift is it important for that actual shift but it gets our bench going,” Pecknold said. “Our guys are real close and real tight and he had a couple shifts and you have [Matthew] Peca and the twins on the bench licking their chops because they want to go do that and Langlois ready to go. It’s fun to watch.”
A little over midway through the first, the Bobcats made it 3-0 on Jeremy Langlois’ 100th career point. Seconds after Langlois was freed from the penalty box following a tripping minor, Quinnipiac goaltender Eric Hartzell tipped a Drew LeBlanc shot wide. The Bobcats’ Zach Davies eventually picked up the puck and raced down ice. Davies wristed a shot from the left circle that Faragher kicked into the slot. Langlois who was trailing the play, cleaned up the rebound for the three-goal lead.
Hartzell showed off to the country why he should be considered for the 2013 Hobey Baker Award, making 32 saves for his 30th win of the season.
“We’d do anything to replay those first ten minutes,” St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said. “They score three of their first four shots and we couldn’t overcome it. We just wish we could play those first minutes again, but we can’t do it; that’s what stings.”
The national championship is set for Saturday at 7:05 p.m. and will be aired live on ESPN.
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