It was sweet revenge for the Quinnipiac Men’s Ice Hockey team (20-12-5) on Mar. 16 at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. Last year during the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) tournament final, Mercyhurst rallied back in the third period to beat QU 6-5 and go off to the NCAA tournament.
This year the two teams faced off again in the finals, but this time Quinnipiac took a strong 4-0 lead in the first period and managed to hold on till the end to take home a 6-4 win and a bid to the NCAA tournament.
Quinnipiac dominated the first period of the game scoring four unanswered goals which led to Mercyhurst to replace two time MAAC Goalie of the Year Peter Aubry with sophomore Matt Cifelli.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net during the second period and Quinnipiac went into the last 20 minutes of the game with a four-goal lead. Quinnipiac’s freshman goaltender Jamie Holden had a MAAC tournament record 20 saves during the second period.
Mercyhurst put themselves on the scoreboard at 1:55 into the third period, but Quinnipiac quickly answered back to make the score 5-1, keeping a four goal lead.
Mercyhurst fought back and managed to close the gap and come within one goal before Ryan Olsen put the puck in an empty net with nine seconds left to go in the game, securing a win and a spot in the NCAA tournament for Quinnipiac.
Matt Craig, a freshman forward for Quinnipiac was named tournament MVP. He contributed three goals during the playoff rounds, two of them in the semi-final game against Sacred Heart.
Freshman Chris White, junior Matt Erhart and Holden were also selected to the All-Tournament team.
Quinnipiac goes into the tournament seeded No. five, the highest ranking that any non “Big Four” team had feceived in the history of the tournament. QU will make their first appearance in the NCAA tournament on March 23 at 3:30 p.m. at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass. against Cornell University
The last time these two teams met on Jan. 6, 2001 the game ended in a 2-2 tie.