Quinnipiac gets revenge as they make it to the National Championship

Ryan Johanson

The Quinnipiac Bobcats and the Michigan Wolverines are on polar opposite sides of college hockey history as the people consider the Wolverines to be a “Blue Blood” of college hockey. Michigan has nine National Championships in program history while Quinnipiac has only made the final four a total of three times. 

“The three programs here are established and have long histories and we are 25 years into division one and for a chunk of those we didn’t have our own rink, and for a chunk of those we had to practice at midnight.” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said after practice Wednesday about being the underdog in this Frozen Four with the history that the other three teams bring with them. 

Last season the Bobcats season ended at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines with a score of 7-4 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. This time around in the Frozen Four in Tampa Bay, Florida, the Bobcats got revenge for their loss last year as they beat the Wolverines by a score of 5-2 behind two goals by Jacob Quillan and 29 saves by Yaniv Perets. 

“Yeah, I mean, part of the keys we had on one of the games of management and you know, we want to take care of the puck and limit their chances,” Quillan said. “That’s what we did early on in the game, even later in the game with (Zach) Metsa’s goal and (Sam) Lipkin’s goal.”

With this win, the Bobcats won their 33rd game of the season which set their program single-season win record that was last set last season and before that during the 2015-2016 season. 

“Elite character kids, really high compete, and very selfless that’s part of buying in,” Pecknold said. “I thought we were outstanding tonight, Michigan is a tough team but I thought our culture was outstanding.”

The Bobcats came out flying as they fired four shots on goal in the first six minutes. After some commotion around the crease of Michigan’s goalie Erik Portillo, Quillan fired the puck off the back of Portillo to give the Bobcats the early 1-0 lead 5:18 into the first period. 

Only 1:31 after the game’s first goal by Quillian, New Jersey Devils draft pick Seamus Casey went past the whole Bobcats on a breakaway to tie the game up. The Bobcats scored a second goal in the period as Quillan scored his second past Portillo as he went through his five-hole after a lead pass by Sam Lipkin. 

The Bobcats came out flying to start the second period as they had many chances to get past Portillo but all failed to go in the net as Portillo saved all of the nine Bobcats’ shots in the second period. Michigan did tie the game up as Hobey Baker finalist Adam Fantilli scored his 30th goal of the season as he put a one-timer past Perets to tie the game up at 2-2. 

Perets and the Quinnipiac defense held the top-scoring team in the nation to just two goals. Michigan is averaging 4.22 goals a game this season which is the country’s best. This was not a tall stand for the Bobcats as they are first in goals against at a staggering 1.54 goals against per game. 

“Yeah he was excellent, I think he is the best goalie in the country. He’s our guy,” Pecknold said. “He probably was our best player on the ice tonight. He helped us win the game for sure.”

The third period started early for the Bobcats as Lipkin banked it off of Portillo’s leg 1:24 into the period to regain the lead 3-2 and after this, the Bobcats did not look back. Quinnipiac scored two more in the period as Metsa fired a shot from the boards that surprised Portillo as it went over his shoulder to give the Bobcats a 4-2 lead. Ethan de Jong finished the game off with an empty net goal with 1:45 left in the game which brought the Bobcats to the National Championship.

“There’s still one more job to do. I think that’s kind of the mentality that we know we’re not done yet,” Metsa said following the win over Michigan. “You can’t get too high and in these types of tournaments you got to be able to rebound and reset.” 

The Bobcats will play for their first-ever National Championship Saturday night as they play the Minnesota Golden Gophers at 8 p.m.