Burgart, Mendel send Quinnipiac to Lake Placid for first time since 2017 in 4-3 double overtime game win over St. Lawrence


Kaylyn Terry

Desi Burgart’s game winning goal celebration.

Michael LaRocca

As many Quinnipiac students are settling into their spring break vacations, Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey is settling into the ECAC Hockey tournament semifinals in Lake Placid, New York after defeating St. Lawrence in a double-overtime thriller by a score of 4-3.

Looking to continue the momentum acquired from March 11’s 4-1 victory in game one of the three-game series, Quinnipiac was instead met with a performance from a stout St. Lawrence defense reminiscent of the 2021 ECAC Hockey championship game, where the Saints defeated the Bobcats in overtime 3-2.

The game’s first 10 minutes were filled with missed opportunities for Quinnipiac as every major scoring chance was either saved by St. Lawrence senior goaltender Emil Zetterquist or blocked by the aforementioned Saint defense. 

While Quinnipiac struggled to find the back of the net to start, St. Lawrence used its scoring opportunities to jump on the Bobcats’ first-team All-ECAC goaltender Yaniv Perets, as Saints junior forward Aleksi Peltonen tipped in a rebound off the pad of Perets to give his team a 1-0 lead at the 14:09 mark of the first period. 

After what seemed like an eternity of stingy defense from St. Lawrence, the Bobcats put themselves on the scoreboard at the 14:37 mark of the second period after graduate student defenseman Griffin Mendel received the puck immediately off the draw and zipped it past Zetterquist to even the game at one. The goal from Mendel was his third of the series after only scoring two over the course of the entire regular season. 

The satisfaction of the tie game did not last long for Quinnipiac as its transition defense faltered to begin the third period, allowing St. Lawrence to score on two breakaways, giving it a 3-1 lead. The latter goal, scored by junior forward Josh Boyer, was not exempt from controversy as it seemed that St. Lawrence had six men on the ice at the time of the score. The goal was not challenged by the Quinnipiac staff. 

“At the time we didn’t (know),” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “Obviously that’s on us as a staff. We need to challenge that and it’s on the referees to see it … It is what it is, we move on and it was lucky the players bailed the coaching staff out.” 

Said bailout of the coaching staff began at the 7:31 mark of the third period as the Bobcats scored a power-play goal off a wrist shot from the top of the key by graduate student defenseman Brendan Less, cutting the Saint lead to one. The game was then tied up at three nearly four minutes later when Quinnipiac junior forward Skyler Brind’Amour redirected a shot from junior defenseman Jayden Lee, leading to the puck finding cloth behind Zetterquist.

After a scoreless remainder of regulation, the potential series-clinching game for Quinnipiac went to overtime. 

The overtime became a microcosm of the entire game up to that point from a defensive standpoint. Both sides toughened up and played aggressive, making defensive stops and blocking shots left and right throughout the extra frame. St. Lawrence as a team finished with 36 blocked shots, with each player doing whatever they can in an attempt to stop Quinnipiac’s 117 total shots taken over the course of the matchup. This defensive toughness resulted in no score for either side, leading to a second overtime period.

Just as the Quinnipiac home crowd of 2401 people began to seem anxious regarding the game’s ballooning length, their Bobcats finished off St. Lawrence with a goal from senior forward Desi Burgart, ending the Saints’ 2021-22 men’s ice hockey season. The goal was the sixth game-winner in the four-year career of Burgart, closing out his final game at the People’s United Center in a Quinnipiac uniform. 

 “(The program) has been everything to me,” Burgart said. “One of the best programs in the country without a doubt. The fans, the coaches, my teammates, all my best friends in my class. I’m definitely going to remember every single moment from this rink.”

Even after the victory, Quinnipiac took the time to recognize the effort that St. Lawrence laid out on the ice in an attempt to save its season as well as take in the occasion that this win has brought to the program. 

“I thought St. Lawrence was really good this weekend and gave us all we could handle,” Pecknold said. “For us to be down 3-1, the adversity we had to handle to battle back, and then get it in the second overtime. It’s a nice win, we’re excited to move on, but again, congratulations to (St. Lawrence head) coach (Brent) Brekke. I thought he did a great job with getting his kids ready to play.” 

The win for Quinnipiac is its 30th on the season, marking the third time in program history where the team reached that plateau. The first two were in the 2012-13 and 2015-16 seasons, and both were years where the Bobcats reached the national championship game. 

Quinnipiac’s opponent for the ECAC Hockey tournament semifinal round will be decided at the conclusion of the matchups between Colgate and Cornell, as well as RPI and Harvard, both occurring at 4 p.m. on March 13. Quinnipiac will look forward to playing the lowest remaining seed from those two games in Lake Placid, New York on March 18 at 4 p.m.