Men’s ice hockey readies for national championship vs. North Dakota

Staff Reports

Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey will play for its first-ever national title on Saturday night at Amalie Arena vs. North Dakota.

The Bobcats – who lost to Yale in the NCAA National Championship game in 2013 – head into this year’s title game after topping Boston College 3-2 on Thursday night in the national semifinal.

“I thought BC was really good last night and gave us everything we could handle,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said at Friday’s Frozen Four press conference. “And we’re excited to survive that game and move on. And, again, a big win for our university, and we’re looking forward to tomorrow night.”

North Dakota enters the 2016 championship game having won three straight games. The Fighting Hawks topped Northeastern 6-2 in the first round of the Midwest Region Semifinal, beat Michigan 5-2 in the Midwest Region Final and then downed Denver 4-2 on Thursday night at Amalie Arena.

“I love the way North Dakota plays,” Pecknold said. “I think [North Dakota head coach Brad] Berry has done a phenomenal job getting his team prepared for each and every game. I don’t know how many [games] I’ve watched on TV. I watched a few and then saw them last night. They just go. They pressure.”

Quinnipiac enters play with the nation’s No. 4 offense, while North Dakota ranks No. 7 overall.

“First of all, Quinnipiac, they bring a lot of different things to the table,” Berry said. “They play with a lot of tenacity. They play with a lot of compete. They play with a lot of fire. They have structure. I’d like to think that they mirror a lot of us, what we do.”

The last time the Bobcats faced North Dakota was in last season’s national tournament, where the Fighting Hawks topped Quinnipiac 4-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s just another game to us, prepare the same way, do our scouting just like we do for any other team,” Devon Toews said. “And obviously it’s an exciting time for us and our university as well. So I think we’re just trying to stay calm and collected and just prepare the same way we always do.”

“Just pretty much business as usual,” Quinnipiac captain Soren Jonzzon added. “I mean, we’ve got to focus on the game before we can focus on the endpoint. If we focus on the endpoint, probably the game won’t go the way we want it to.”

By the numbers:

Goaltender comparison:
Michael Garteig: 32-3-7, 1.83 GAA, .926 sv. %, 8 shutouts
Cam Johnson: 23-4-2, 1.68 GAA, .933 sv. %, 5 shutouts

Team offense (national rank)
QU: 3.86 g/gm (4)
UND: 3.65 g/gm (7)

Team defense (national rank)
QU: 1.90 g/gm (5)
UND: 1.86 g/gm (2)

UND top scorers:
Brock Boeser: 26g, 30a, 56p
Drake Caggiula: 23g, 26a, 49p
Nick Schmaltz: 11g, 34a, 45p

QU leading scorers:
Anas: 24g, 26a, 50p
St. Denis: 22g, 26a, 48p
Tim Clifton: 18g, 23a, 41p

QU leading scorers (postseason):
Connor Clifton: 1g, 9a, 10p
Travis St. Denis: 4g, 6a, 10p
Sam Anas: 3g, 4a, 7p
Landon Smith: 4g, 3a, 7p
Tim Clifton: 1g, 6a, 7p

Against common opponents (Maine, St. Cloud State, Northeastern)
QU: 3-0-2
UND: 2-1-1

UND power play: 31-for-160 (19.4%) No. 21
QU penalty kill: 137-for-154 (89.0%) No. 3

QU power play: 46-for-167 (27.5%) No. 4
UND penalty kill: 137-for-158 (86.7%) No. 5