With a sellout crowd of more than 4,000 people in attendance last year, the Yale game is considered the biggest regular season sporting event at Quinnipiac. As a gold ocean of students wearing yellow T-shirts clapped thundersticks in their hands to create a wave of sound last year, Bobcat fans attending the game this year will be carrying hats to donate to Don’s Hat Rack in memory of Donald Perrotti who lost his battle to cancer.
The game will serve as the eighth Heroes Hat championship, the final regular-season game between Quinnipiac and Yale. The Heroes Hat was established in honor of those who risked or lost their lives following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and is given in honor of Joesph Mascali, father of Quinnipiac alumni Chris and Jen Mascali, as well as the many members of the Yale community who lost alumni, family, and friends.
What happened last time?
If you’re looking for an upset, the Bobcats almost made that happen in this season’s first meeting when they took a 1-0 lead over nationally-ranked No. 5/6 Yale into the first intermission on Nov. 6 at Ingalls Rink. Sophomore forward Jeremy Langlois gave the Bobcats the go-ahead goal, but the lead overexcited the Bobcats. Their momentum was overthrown as Yale scored five straight goals to remain undefeated at home.
Quinnipiac’s Jones twins, Connor and Kellen, have been the talk of the team’s offense. Connor most recently scored his ninth goal of the season on an assist from his brother. Langlois leads the Bobcats with 20 points, Connor is tied with team captain Scott Zurevinski for second (19) while Kellen is right behind them with 18 points for the season. Yale’s two Hobey Baker candidates, Broc Little and Denny Kearney, solidify the team’s offense, with some help from Brian O’Neill. O’Neill’s 31 points top Yale as he scored a hatrick in the Bulldog’s last win over Dartmouth. Which team leads the ECAC and the entire nation in goals per game, averaging just over four? Yale. Advantage: Yale
Quinnipiac’s defense is young with only one senior and one junior on the blue line this year. The younger players have stepped up to hold the Bobcats to a 2.61 goals against average, good for sixth in the ECAC. Yale averages 2.11 goals against in conference play, but Yale’s defense is no bone you can’t break. It has not been tested because the offense has been averaging just over four goals a game. Advantage: Push
Eric Hartzell has backstopped most of the games for Quinnipiac and he is arguably the reason why the team has not fallen harder than it has. Hartzell was named ECAC Hockey/MLX Skates Goaltender of the Week on Jan. 4, but Yale’s Ryan Rondeau one-upped Hartzell as he was named Goaltender of the Week twice, on Jan. 11 and Feb. 8. Both goaltenders have been a solid backbone in the 22 games each of them has played. Hartzell has a 2.28 goals-against average and a .926 save-percentage. Rondeau has a 2.07 goals-against average and a .923 save-percentage. Advantage: Push
Although the Bulldogs are 20-5, all five of their losses have been on the road, four of which have been against ECAC teams. Perhaps if Friday’s game were at Yale, the Bulldogs would be the definite heroes. But it’s not. The Heroes Hat is being played at the TD Bank Sports Center, but Quinnipiac, who is 3-5-1 in ECAC games (8-6-1 overall) at home, has been inconsistent in its own barn. Advantage: Push
If Quinnipiac can generate the crowd’s energy onto the ice, it can compete with nationally-ranked No. 3 Yale as it has for the past four Heroes Hat championship games. Yale has never even laid a glove on the Heroes Hat since it was moved from Atlantic Hockey to ECAC Hockey in 2006-07. But the Bobcats have shown that if they get a lead on the Bulldogs, they can’t keep it. We’ll see if history repeats itself in round two. Final Score: Yale 4, Quinnipiac 2
Photo credit: Andrew Vazzano