Redemption: X-Factors for the NCAA Regional Semi-Final

Matt Mugno

The Quinnipiac Bobcats look to turn their 30-win season into playoff success on Friday in the NCAA Regional Semi-Final against the Merrimack Warriors who have not been in the national tournament since 2011. 

Each team enters the NCAA Tournament on bids they earned from stellar regular season play. Let’s cut to the chase. Who and what are the X-Factors on each team when their season is on the line?

  1. The York Hill Boys: 

The 1980 United States Olympic Team had “The Coneheads.” The Philadelphia Flyers had the “Legion of Doom.”  The Tampa Bay Lightning had “The Triplets” and The New York Rangers have “The Kid Line.”

The Bobcats have the “York Hill Boys” which consist of Jacob Quillan, Collin Graf, and Sam Lipkin who were effective against Yale in their conference quarterfinal two-game series. 

What went wrong against Colgate? Hardly time as a trio. Not a lot of space, split up by a multitude of powerplays, penalty kills, and a five-minute major. You could count on one hand how many opportunities Rand Pecknold’s squad generated through five periods of hockey in Lake Placid, New York.

If there’s a time for the lethal unit to take over, it’s the first shift on Friday. The underclassmen have the capability to imperiously annex a game. 

  1. Adjustments: 

It’s easier said than executed. Which team adjusted following their conference tournament losses? There’s certainly new life with this tournament. Win or go home. Except for this time, for good. 

Merrimack played in three overtime games en route to a Hockey East Championship loss. They defeated Boston College in double overtime, UMASS Lowell in double overtime, and lost to Boston University in the Hockey East final in overtime. 

The Bobcats were undisciplined and couldn’t solve the Raiders on defense. Pecknold acknowledged his fourth-line center and extra skater as two of his best performers.

 It will be noticeable to see how each team responds early in Friday’s match. 

  1. Which Goaltender for Merrimack: 

Zachary Borgiel or Hugo Ollas. Who’s starting? Can either of them outduel Yaniv Perets? The Bobcats saw a piping hot Carter Gylander aka “The Bobcat Killer.” He stopped forty shots from a Bobcats team that may not have had a volume of quality shots in Herb Brooks Arena but certainly had chances where the man in the crease had to bail his team out. 

Gylander may not be Perets but he answered the bell just enough in what would be “The Mitton Miracle.”

The juggernauts for Merrimack have that killer potential. Ollas played in the championship game, so it seems safe to say Ollas would play in the regional. 

The two keepers define a fifty-fifty split. Ollas 21 games, Borgiel 19. Borgiel has a .914 save percentage, and Ollas has a .929 save percentage. 

Whichever keeper is in the blue paint, they have the capability to deliver a second shock to the Bobcats, don’t count the tandem out. 

  1. Discipline:  

An issue for the Bobcats against the Raiders was their discipline. Five penalties and five penalties were killed. The swing in momentum on top of losing Skyler Brind’Armour to an undisciplined play resulted in rickety chemistry. It added adversity to a team already facing a strong keeper and defense.

  If the officials caught a Christophe Fillion trip on a delayed penalty, it easily could have resulted in a 5 on 3 in overtime. A player doesn’t choose to take penalties but they certainly can avoid a foul with increased accountability. 

The Bobcats faced a dark horse last week and shot themselves in the foot. Order and control. Without them, The Hamden Heavyweights may as well let another underdog take the season from them. 

  1. Warrior-vengers: 

You can’t win if you can’t score. The team hailing from Andover, Massachusetts hasn’t played a post-season game where they scored more than two goals. With that said, timely goals have allowed the team to advance. 


Hockey East Tournament: 

(Win Vs. BC: 1-0) Mick Messner (OT) 

(Win Vs. UMASS Lowell: 2-1) Jordan Seyfert, Matt Copponi (OT) 

(Loss in the Hockey East E Championship: 3-2) Christian Felton, Mac Welsher

That’s the list. The four players (other than Copponi) combined for 14 goals during the regular season. When it comes to the tournament, anyone can be the lionheart. 

The Bobcats are like the Justice League. How can you beat Superman? Batman? Aquaman? Draw those comparisons to players such as Zach Metsa, Ethan De Jong, Collin Graf and Perets.

Merrimack is the like the first Avengers movie. Iron Man in the cave, Captain America, and the question of the shield with Your goaltending tandem and the Copponi’s. 

That’s historically a bad recipe for the Bobcats. The catalog of players that have delivered the final blow to the Bobcats may continue if Merrimack continues timely scoring from unlikely assets. 

This weekend marks Bridgeport’s seventh time hosting the regional and will be the first time since 2018 that fans can attend the venue. Do the Bobcats advance to the final? Does Merrimack spoil the season?

Listen to the broadcast live at 5:30 p.m. Mike Singer and Clever Streich will be on the call.