#7 Quinnipiac Tops #6 North Dakota in Game One


Photos: Olamide Gbotosho

Griffin Kass

A third national championship appearance is a dream that could turn into a reality for this 2021-2022 Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team. The Bobcats defeated the no. 6 ranked North Dakota Fighting Hawks 5-2 on Friday evening at the People’s United Center.

Coming into this contest, the no. 7 ranked Quinnipiac Bobcats wanted to make a statement and they did just that.

In a no. 6 vs. no. 7 pivotal matchup and the first game back with a crowd in over a year, the atmosphere from Bobcat Nation was unmatched which propelled Quinnipiac.

Bobcats head coach Rand Pecknold was ecstatic when describing the home atmosphere tonight.

“I thought the crowd was great they gave us a ton of energy; I don’t even know how long it’s been since we’ve had a home game with fans so that was exciting to get back to normalcy,” Pecknold said.

In the beginning of the first period the Bobcats got plenty of good looks obtaining 12 of the first 13 shots.

Junior Defenseman Jayden Lee, who scored a power play goal tonight, shared his thoughts on applying pressure to start the contest.

“By getting twelve of the first thirteen shots we put them on their back heel and were able to take it to them,” Lee said.

The Fighting Hawks Senior Goaltender Zach Driscoll made some outstanding saves that didn’t let any of those Quinnipiac shots get into the net.

North Dakota threw the first real punch as Freshman Forward Matteo Costantini made it a 1-0 game off his quick wrist shot through the sophomore Quinnipiac goaltender Yaniv Perets five hole.

Only five minutes later Quinnipiac was able take that punch and fire one of their own. Graduate defensemen Brendan Less set up forward Oliver Chau beautifully on a cross crease pass. Chau did the rest and was easily able to tap the puck into the net.

The first period concluded with a score of 1-1. It was a competitive physical period that displayed why these two programs are considered top ten teams in the country.

The second period included reminiscence from the first as both teams came out very physical and engaged in a back-and-forth contest. However, Quinnipiac kept the momentum going as Junior Forward Joey Cipollonemade it a 2-1 game off the backhand shot assisted by Junior Forward Ethan Leyh and Senior Defensemen Zach Metsa.

It didn’t stop there for the Bobcats in the second period as the squad was able to extend their lead to 3-1 as Lee scored a power play goal from leading point-getter Senior Forward Michael Lombardi and Leyh.

Heading into the third period a two-goal lead wasn’t enough for the Bobcats. Sophomore Forward Ty Smilanicmade it a 4-1 game off the one-time blast from Metsa.

Just under five minutes left to go in the third period the Fighting Hawks fought some more. Sophomore Defenseman Jake Sanderson scored a power play goal to close the gap at 4-2.

Quinnipiac was able to seal the game off an empty netter from Chau to get his second goal of the night which resulted in the final 5-2.

The Bobcats will look to do the same thing against the Fighting Hawks tomorrow night Saturday, Oct. 23.