Dust to Dust Michigan, The Bobcats Are Headed to the Dance


Photo: Rob Rasmussen / QU Athletics

Matt Mugno

The Quinnipiac Bobcats defied the odds and advanced to the National Championship for the first time since 2016.

The Michigan Wolverines, with the equivalent of a college super-team, pack up to leave Tampa, empty handed.

The Bobcats have defeated two elite Big Ten programs in succession. One to advance to the Frozen Four. The next to exorcise their demons and qualify for the National Championship.

How did they pull off the hockey world’s unthinkable?

X’s and O’s (They Haunt Mich.):   

The Bobcats have played the same type of game all year, from the exhibition against the Varsity Blues to Ireland and certainly in Tampa. Defending in waves, disrupting in layers. Building defense into attack. Competitive checking, nothing physical that takes a forward out of the backcheck.

The Hamden Heavyweights grabbed the right keys and locked the right doors. It was reminiscent of the UCONN Connecticut Ice Championship contest, a game with NHL prospects, hard checking, minimal penalties, team defense but a transition game that could make you dizzy. That’s not only exciting hockey, but a game the Bobcats have professed to their opponents as a masterclass.

Rand’s preaching of X’s and Os came through on full display. The team executed.

The York Hill Boys:

The York Hill Boys. Assembled this season, all three assets’ surprises in development now stand a victory away from walking among the college hockey stars forever.

Jacob Quillan’s two goal performance shades of 2013 Bobcat Matthew Peca. Collin Graf the engine behind two key plays. Sam Lipkin the electric go-ahead goal.

Right before the playoffs, Quillan had gone on a nine-game cold streak. Starting with the ECAC quarterfinal, he’s recorded one of the best postseasons in Bobcats history. A jam from behind the net off Portillo. Check. A slick breakaway to feather a dart five hole. Check. That puts the center at six goals in six tournament games (ECAC and NCAA).

Lipkin rose to the occasion by hitting Quillan in stride full speed center lane en route to 16’s second goal of the first. Portillo, looking out of position often, and chaotic at times, allowed a second off the back goal from Lipkin which put the Bobcats ahead.

All three of the York Hill Boys registered a point on the go-ahead goal. That’s not the most important part. It’s how they do it. A lot of skill, some great bounces. It all starts with defense. Graf had an impact in his ability to transition and activate his linemates. That’s what leads to two assists, and of most importance, pushing the team to a National Title.

Do it for the Culture:  

Pecknold consistently preaches about culture, but at the end of the day it’s how the players carry that through. Three minor penalties all game, Lombardi’s certainly a faulty trip. Nordqvist was caught in a tough spot on a trip.

The team’s buy-in was present. Quick shifts. The Wolverines were caught more than once on poor line changes. One fire drill led to a Collin Graf breakaway. The Bobcats’ legs were moving like clockwork. Two men on pucks. They never were in desperate positions of icing the puck.

Pecknold has never fully defined culture, but a calculated guess could include the aforementioned.

Michigan’s Miscalculation:  

Michigan appeared to overestimate the Bobcats the day they stepped in the building. The Wolverines skill had glimpses but didn’t overpower. A lot of individual drives to net, some pretty passing, but overall, the number of chances players like Hughes and Fantilli generated didn’t have a vice grip here. Aside from the power-play goal and a nice drive and shot off the crossbar, the Bobcats shift in and shift out nullified Fantilli.

Luke Hughes was also kept to the perimeter. The New Jersey Devils prospect had his chances but was stifled. Big Ten play allows his style of lateral movement and quarterbacking. The Bobcats had none of it.

The Sherbrooke Boys:  

A simple note but the Bobcats wonder twins’ chemistry was fizzing in the jungle. Tellier registered two assists, and the duo swept up a broken play that led to Metsa’s back breaking goal in the third period. Aside from the stat sheet, the growth those two have displayed since their tough go in Placid is a sight to behold. Especially on college hockey’s biggest stage. Literally, Amalie is the seventh largest ice hockey rink (capacity) in the United States.


The only major a Bobcat took all year was Skylar Brind’Armour’s game altering ejection in Lake Placid. Against Michigan, in the thick of the pressure, the Bobcats played a responsible game. Composed. Fouls that simply most had committed without penalization the entire game. If not, obvious slip ups.

Onto the big kahuna. The National Championship. Listen to the radio call live on QBSN.