Previewing The National Championship

Matt Mugno

TAMPA, FLA- The Quinnipiac Bobcats have made it to the pinnacle game in college hockey. The National Championship. Two programs remain. One hails from the Twin Cities, the other from a small town in Hamden, Connecticut. 

No matter how you carve it up, connect the dots, or uncover the storylines. One sixty-minute contest of ice hockey will determine who is the best NCAA Division 1 ice hockey team of 2023.

 It goes without saying that this is the biggest game for the program, potentially, even if they win their first title. It would be the first NCAA title Quinnipiac University has ever won. This game-seven-like atmosphere is the biggest game in the 43 skaters’ lives. For that matter, this also is the biggest in Rand Pecknold and Bob Matzo’s careers. 

The Superbowl of Division 1 Ice hockey takes place at Amalie Arena at 8:00 p.m. tonight. 

What are the quick hits to know going into the summit event for Quinnipiac University athletics history?

The Best Line in Gophers History? 

At the continental breakfast serving, I had a great chat with a Minnesota fan that I’ve become friendly with. He was a wealth of knowledge and you can’t learn about a place or a people without simply talking to the native people of a place. 

Two history buffs, one desiring to learn as much as possible, the other living through hockey’s finest modern moments. 

With a heavy accent, the question arose. “Is Logan Cooley, Matt Knies, and Jimmy Snuggerud really the best line in Gopher’s history?” 

One thing is for sure, their open skate on Friday morning was nothing short of terrifying. To be frank, there was one Adam Fantilli on Michigan. They have a 1A, 1B, and 1C variant of Michigan’s 2023 Hobey Baker winner. (WATCH HERE). 

The only other line my breakfast buddy mentioned that could top them was the line that helped win the 1979 National Championship. Neal Broten, Bryan “Butsy” Erickson, and Aaron Broten also known as the “Roseu” line. All three teammates grew up in the same town in northern Minnesota and won the 1979 National Championship under Herb Brooks, who then brought Broten to the Olympics in 1980 with him. Very similar to how Rand Pecknold coached the USA 2023 World Juniors team and coached Logan Cooley. 

The Pittsburgh natives have extremely high-end speed, size, stops and starts. His ability to control the pace with his speed, vision, and IQ makes him the final boss. Lucky for Pecknold, he coached him for six practices at the World Juniors so expect a similar style of defense that was played on Fantili to Cooley. Just it some adjustments to match his game.

Matt Knies was also up for the Hobey Baker Award alongside his own linemate. He is the most responsible player on the line and defensively reliable, with size and skill that explodes with his linemates. 

Jimmy Snuggerud lacks in the skating department but boy he finds open spaces and picks apart the goaltender as a pure sniper. The perfect complement to two of the best playmakers in North America. 

All three linemates are in the top 20 of scoring. All three linemates are first-round NHL draft picks. If Michigan’s top forwards were a category four then Minnesota’s are a surging category five. This line bullied Boston University on Thursday. To put it mildly, winning this game may cement them as one of the best college hockey lines ever.

Yaniv Peret’s:

Saying “It’s Perets biggest game yet” is trite. He isn’t the underdog anymore. His humble, quiet, and modest personality may aid in said image, but this is a goaltender that isn’t:

  1. Getting lucky because of the team’s defensive structure.
  2. Playing weaker opponents, therefore having inflated statistics.
  3. Performing in his first tournament game. 

So that narrative ends here. Perets’ only offer was to play at Quinnipiac. He’s done it all and then some and somehow has the same label tacked on his jersey that his teammates have. 

Yet, he’s made it further than Devon Levi, Adam Fantilli, Mason Lohrei, Sean Farrell, and on and on. He’s competing in the National Championship and has been nothing short of “the man.”

Perets is the key to victory. If he performs at the level he had against Michigan, even as he had in Lake Placid, the Bobcats seriously have a shot at the title. 

The last line of defense will somehow have his biggest test yet. The nature of 2023 hockey has been, the best teams advance. Perets has outperformed himself from Lake Placid to Bridgeport to Tampa, a growth that may not seem possible for such an artist. 

Tonight, it’s Perets versus the world. 

Defensive “Hawkey”: 

The Bobcats have largely faced defenses that stretch the ice by mobilizing. Henry Thrun, Farell, Luke Hughes, Seamus Casey, all these names immediately register in the cranium as “puck-moving” or “mobile” and loosely “two-way.” Head coach Rand Pecknold explained how he had planned the game. “We prepared for Michigan the way we prepared for Harvard, they play a similar game…we swept them this season.” 

The difference against the Gophers is their defense plays defense. Brock Faber is one of the best defensemen in the country not because of his stat line. A rearguard with a dynamic and fluent stride, detail to the transition game, stay-at-home safe man. 

The Bobcats jump into transition a little bit more than to classify as “stay at home,” but they make up resistance when it comes to shutting the lights out. They can if Minnesota has a man caught, they’ll hop into the transition and transform into attackers or F3s. Zach Metsa and Jake Johnson exemplify that style. 

The National Championship may not be high scoring. Keyword “may.” No glass ball here. The two teams’ attention to defense suggests less open ice. It’s all about what Pecknold has stated about defending elite talent, “limiting time and space.”


There’s a lot of rhyme here but nothing is the same. The Bobcats are playing for the National Championship in Tampa Bay, the same as in 2016. Not one of the players on the roster is the same. 

Minnesota is playing in the National Championship for the first time since 2014. The last time they competed, they lost to an ECAC team. 

University of Minnesota head coach Bob Motzko called them the “Big Ten Killers.” The Bobcat’s final opponent and the previous two were Big Ten teams.

Both teams are coached by well-respected and elite coaches. Neither coach has won a national title. One will today. 

The team’s structure. A skilled line, a shutdown line, and grinders. A back end of shutdown defense willing to jump to attack when possible. 

 “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.”- Mark Twain. 

The End:

One final game, THE final game. The story writes itself tonight followed by a swift “The End.” Whatever happens, will result in one of these two programs winning the 2023 National Championship. That’s all folks. 

 Both teams truly earned this position, no flukes, no give me’s. If there was ever a year to exemplify “the best of the best” on full display, the point here. 

The exciting part about an all-time hockey game in the making, all we can do is watch. Listen to the last QBSN hockey radio broadcast of the year here.

Enjoy the show!