Bobcats fall to Michigan despite four-goal third period, Wolverines onto Frozen Four


Photo: Kaylyn Terry

Kaylyn Terry

A late comeback for the Bobcats was not enough to take the NCAA by storm and advance, losing to the Michigan Wolverines 7-4 on Sunday. 

It was a very physical first period with both teams coming out hot on the offensive grind. Quinnipiac quickly was putting shots on net, outshooting Michigan but not able to score on any of them. 

In just 30 seconds of the first period, Nolan Moyle got a lucky bounce off of Yaniv Perets‘ pad and was able to pocket the puck into the goal and grabbed an early Wolverine lead. 

With just five minutes left, Jimmy Lambert got an even bigger lead with a goal off a pass from Luke Hughes. 

The end of the first period left Quinnipiac scoreless but hungry for more. 

The second period was the same as the first, with two Wolverines scoring and leaving the Bobcats in the dust. Thomas Bordeleau and Garrett Van Wyhe took a dominant 4-0 lead for Michigan almost sealing the deal with a whole period left to play. 

The Bobcats could not figure out a way to score on Erik Portillo who stood tall in the net throughout the first and second period even though they were still outshooting the Wolverines. 

The Bobcat pride seemed to be lacking a bit on the ice, but it was never lacking in the stands. The fans who traveled hours to see their team play one final time never lost hope as “Let’s go Bobcats” cheers rang through the stadium.

And the team heard them.

Just four minutes into the third period, Jayden Lee got the puck out front and, while falling down onto the ice, made an incredible shot through traffic to get the first goal on the board for the Bobcats. 

The team was electrified to say the least. Just like that it was all the Bobcats for eight minutes. 

Wyatt Bongiovanni and Desi Burgart both got pucks into the net one after the other to cut the Michigan lead to just one, 4-3. 

It looked like the Bobcats would tie it up as Michigan was stunned and unable to respond to the scoring spree. 

With four minutes left to play, head coach Rand Pecknold made the decision to pull Dylan St. Cyr, who entered the game in the third period in place of Perets, to give the Bobcats a man advantage. 

“It’s a pretty normal decision for how I operate,” Pecknold said. “It works a lot more than it doesn’t for us. We’ve had a lot of success with it. They feel confident. We made a bad decision.” 

“They had all the momentum with like four minutes left in the game,” Michigan head coach Mel Pearson said. “And you know I’m not going to criticize or question any coach, I just thought it was interesting. Maybe because I felt like they didn’t need to pull the goalie because they were all over us.” 

Michael Pastujov called game with an empty netter off of Pecknold’s decision, getting ahold of the puck and skating through Bobcat defenders to get the game-winning goal. 

The Wolverines were able to tack on two more open-net goals from Moyle, his second of the game, and from Brendan Brisson, to really rub salt into the wound. 

One final burst from Zach Metsa gave him, likely, his final goal of his Quinnipiac career and the final goal of the game. 

Bongiovanni captained and led the team throughout the entire year alongside his fellow seniors and graduate students.

“It means the world to me,” Bongiovanni said. “I had a tremendous leadership group along with me. But to lead this team and the success we had throughout the whole year is a blessing. Something I’ll never forget and something that I’ll never take for granted.”

The Wolverines will move on the play in the Frozen Four in Boston in two weeks while the Bobcats’ season has come to a close but not without a fight. 

A team that made history this year from tying the most wins in a season (32), most shutouts in a season, fourth “Elite 8” appearance in nine years, and many other ECAC/NCAA records went out with a bang climbing its way back in just one period. 

After the game was over and the season had ended, the team had a talk in the locker room reflecting on the season and how well they played on Sunday.

“It’s hard to even focus on that… we focus just on relationships built,” Bongiovanni said while tearing up. “There’s 28 brothers in the locker room… It’s really difficult to look back on the game right now. There’s so many things running through my mind.”