Metsa magic and depth help the No. 5 Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team cruise by Holy Cross 5-2

Benjamin Yeargin, Staff Writer

Senior defender Zach Metsa’s goal and assist led the Bobcats to a 5-2 home win over Holy Cross on Tuesday. Photo from Daniel Passapera

Senior defender Zach Metsa has been one of the best players for Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey. His +6 +/- margin leads the team, and he is tied for second in points with five.

“Every time he’s on the ice, good things are happening because he’s so detail-oriented,” junior defender Jayden Lee said. “He makes the right plays and is so good with the puck.”

Metsa earned himself two points tonight as the combination of him and the team’s depth helped the Bobcats top the Holy Cross Crusaders 5-2.

Quinnipiac entered today No. 5 on the USCHO poll. This is the first time the Bobcats men’s hockey has been in the top five since February 2019, where they were No. 4.

Holy Cross head coach Bill Riga made his return to the People’s United Center. He spent the past thirteen years with the Bobcats, helping Quinnipiac earn six NCAA Tournament berths and five ECAC Hockey regular season championships.

The second line began the action in the first period with junior forward Ethan Leyh collecting his first goal of the year, shooting the puck past Holy Cross freshman goaltender Thomas Gale from the left dot of Quinnipiac’s offensive zone. Leyh’s second line partner, junior forward Joey Cipollone, assisted him on the play.

Cipollone, Leyh and junior forward Skyler Brind’Amour created plenty of opportunities for the Bobcats during the first and second periods of action.

The second period showcased the Bobcats’ vast depth.

Quinnipiac began the scoring when, who else but, Metsa received the puck from graduate student forward Oliver Chau and made an excellent pass across the ice to senior forward Ethan de Jong, who extended the Bobcats’ lead to 2-0.

Holy Cross would not give up, however. The Crusaders put bodies in shooting lanes and blocked 19 Quinnipiac shots throughout the game.

The Crusaders kept persisting with junior forward Grayson Constable firing a shot into the bottom left of the Quinnipiac net, past graduate student goaltender Dylan St. Cyr, cutting the Bobcats lead in half to 2-1.

However, Quinnipiac stopped the crusading with a pair of goals.

A battle for the puck in front of Gale led to senior forward Wyatt Bongiovanni scoring his third goal of the season. Chau and sophomore forward Ty Smilanic assisted him on the play. With this goal, the Bobcats scored their third power-play goal of the year.

The fourth line earned its piece of the pie, too. Freshman forward Jacob Quillan obtained the first goal of his collegiate career with fellow fourth liners senior forward TJ Friedmann and freshman forward Cristophe Tellier assisting Quillan, extending the Bobcat lead to 4-1.

“It’s been huge so far, we’ve got three players injured… you always need to have depth,” Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey head coach Rand Pecknold said.

Under a minute into the third period, Holy Cross cut the Quinnipiac lead in half again when junior defender Nick Hale scored an unassisted goal.

The Bobcats responded by sprinkling a little Metsa magic. Exactly five minutes into the third period, senior forward Michael Lombardi passed the puck into the middle of the Quinnipiac offensive zone, where Metsa buried it into the back of the Crusader net, giving Quinnipiac a 5-2 lead. Graduate student defenseman Brendan Less assisted Metsa as well.

Quinnipiac’s physical style of play caught up to it today, as Tellier hit Crusader sophomore defenseman Jack Robilotti, who left the ice shaken up. Tellier was tossed from the game and given two major penalties, five minutes for boarding and 10 minutes for misconduct.

With all cylinders firing as they were today, the Bobcats can stay in the USCHO top five for a long time, and prove themselves as one of the nation’s elite teams.

The Bobcats will play a weekend series against AIC, the first game being on Friday, Oct. 29, in Springfield, Massachusetts at 7 p.m.