The Bobcats Frozen Four History

Matt Mugno

The Quinnipiac Bobcats have advanced to the Frozen Four with their triumphant victory over Ohio State University on Sunday evening. 

It’s the first time in seven years for the Hamden Heavyweights, and the third time in the program’s 25-year Division 1 program history. The entire history coached under Rand Pecknold who eclipsed 600 victories this season. 

That’s good for 12th all-time for college hockey coaches. A decade after coaching his way to his first appearance in Pittsburgh, the man at the helm returns to the same location as his second run in 2016, in Tampa, Florida. 

Pecknold reflected on the opportunity by saying “it’s exciting. The third one’s as good as the first two. It feels great for those guys in the room. The fifth years are finally going to be leaving me…fourth years that may not return. I’m happy for Bobcat nation to everyone at Quinnipiac to experience this.”

He also discussed what is needed to make a deep run. “We need to have high character, high IQ players. We have that again, elite character. They buy into what we need to do that beat teams on a regular basis that probably have more talent than us. A lot of similarities between the last two teams. The 2016 team was special, we had Devon Toews who’s not an elite NHL player. All three of them had a goalie. Hartzell, Garteig and now Yanny, three special goaltenders at this level.”

What’s the history of these post-season runs and how do they compare?

2012-2013: 30-8-5 

Season Summary: The 2012-2013 season marked a major step in the program’s history, which saw the Bobcats in a new frontier. The Bobcats won their first-ever Cleary Cup as the ECAC regular season champions with their 30-win season. In the ECAC conference tournament, the Bobcats played in a wild series against Cornell. In the third game, a double overtime goal scored by an unlikely hero Kevin Bui blew the roof off M&T Bank Arena. They would then lose to Brown 4-0 in their semi-final matchup.

  Pecknold’s pack would clinch the number one overall seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament and start their conquest in the East Regional. In the regional they defeated Canisius and in the regional final they defeated Union 5-1. Headed to their first Frozen Four in program history in Pittsburgh, they defeated St, Cloud 4-1 and advanced to the National Championship game. Their opponent, normally 14 minutes down the road on Whitney Avenue met on college hockey’s biggest stage. 

They would lose to Yale 4-0 in the program’s first National Championship appearance. A bitter loss to their archrival. They defeated Yale handily three times during the regular season. 

Scoring leaders: 

  1. Jeremy Langlois (FWD, Sr., 13G, 18A, 31 PTS)
  2. Matthew Peca (FWD, So., 15G, 15A, 30 PTS)
  3. Jordan Samuels-Thomas (FWD, Jr., 17G, 12A, 29 PTS) 

Goaltender: Eric Hartzell (30-7-5, .933 SV%, 1.57 GAA) 

2015-2016: 32-4-7 

Season Summary: In the regular season, the Bobcats set a program record with 32 wins. With a roster consisting of the Clifton brothers (Connor is now a Boston Bruins defenseman), Devon Toews (2022 Stanley Cup Champion), and Sam Anas (132 career points in 3 seasons in Hamden). It also featured Michael Garteig, who set record after record for the gold and navy. 

The Bobcats would win their third Cleary Cup in four years and had a stellar regular season which translated into the ECAC conference tournament in Lake Placid. They again faced Cornell where they won in a three-game set, defeated the Dartmouth Big Green 3-1, and toppled ECAC and Ivy juggernaut the Harvard Crimson 4-1 to win the ECAC Championship on March 19th, 2016. It stands as their first and only Whitelaw Cup victory. 

In the NCAA tournament, they won the east regional shutting out RIT and defeating UMass Lowell in the regional final 4-1. 

The Frozen Four was played in Tampa Bay, Florida in 2016 (as it will be in 2023). The Bobcats defeated Boston College 3-2, a Landon Smith power-play goal standing as the game-winner, as 17,816 fans watched the Bobcats move on to their second National Championship in three years. 

The Bobcats would then lose to North Dakota 5-1. The goal scorers, Brock Boeser, and Drake Caggiula twice with one of those assisted by Nick Schmaltz. For Quinnipiac, Tim Clifton was assisted by his brother Connor and stood as the only goal for the Bobcats. Who knew what those North Dakota players would become? 

Scoring leaders: 

  1. Sam Anas: (FWD, Sr., 24G, 26A, 50 PTS) 
  2. Travis St. Denis: (FWD, Sr., 22G, 27A, 49 PTS)
  3. Tim Clifton: (FWD, Jr., 19G, 24A, 43 PTS)

Goaltender: Michael Garteig (32-4-7, .924 SV%, 1.91 GAA)

2022-2023:  (32-4-3) 

Season summary: The Bobcats came into the season losing major pieces from the prior season. Out of the last four seasons, this Bobcats team on paper seemed like it would be the one team NOT to go the distance. There’s no money involved, but it seemed like it would be a building year.

 Led by “The York Hill Boys Line” and a slew of graduates and seniors who have endured immense growing pains over the last few seasons, the Bobcats own a 32-4-2 record. They won the Belpot in Ireland, and won the Connecticut Ice Tournament as the host team. That record secured their third Cleary Cup in a row as regular season champions. Why can’t they do this in the post-season? 

In the ECAC Tournament, they hosted the Yale Bulldogs and swept them in a two-game quarterfinal and lost in Lake Placid to the tournament dark horse in the Colgate Raiders on the “Mitton Miracle.”

In the NCAA tournament, the Bobcat’s season earned them a top bid in the regional tournament in Bridgeport, Connecticut. They shut out Merrimack 5-0, and “The Sherbrooke Boys,” Skyker Brind’Armour, and Yaniv Perets helped the Hamden Heavyweights advance to the Frozen Four after a 4-1 victory. 

It wasn’t the 2021 squad. They lost the ECAC championship game to St. Lawrence in overtime. In the west regional semi-final, The Bobcats led 3-1 in the third period and lost 4-3 in overtime to Minnesota State. 

 The 2022 team lost in the ECAC championship to Harvard in overtime and lost in the NCAA regional final in Allentown to a buzzsaw of a Michigan team. 

The 2023 team comprises players that learned from those crushing defeats, and finally, have their chance at a National Championship title. 

Scoring Leaders: 

  1. Collin Graf (FWD., So., 20G, 36A, 56 PTS)
  2. Ethan De Jong (FWD, Gr., 18G, 21A, 39 PTS)
  3. Sam Lipkin (FWD, FY, 13G, 26A, 39 PTS)
  4. Jacob Quillan (FWD, So., 16G, 18A, 34 PTS)

Goaltender: Yaniv Perets: (32-4-3, .932 SV%, 1.46 GAA)

2013, 2016, and 2023 draw similarities and differences. Players like Kevin Bui and Cristophe Tellier stand out as unlikely playoff heroes while players such as Matthew Peca, Tim Clifton, and Jacob Quillan show up as they had all season while they’ve had force fields in the net in Hartzell, Garteig, and Perets. 

Each story is different. Each team is different. It’s hard to ignore how they rhyme. The fate of this post-season run comes with a major test against Michigan on Thursday, April 6 in Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Florida. Will this run result in a National Championship, unlike the previous two appearances?