Quinnipiac outlasts St. Cloud 5-4 in Allentown semifinal

Perets and clutch goals carry the Bobcats one step closer to a Frozen Four appearance

Peter Piekarski, Sports Editor

Tonight was an anomaly for Quinnipiac, as the Bobcats scored five times on just 16 shots and managed to win despite being outplayed and outshot.

“It was probably one of our worst games of the year,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “But we found a way. In some respects, that’s the mark of a good team. We found a way to reload there for the third after that bad second.”

St. Cloud’s usual starting goaltender, graduate student David Hrenak, did not get cleared to play in tonight’s game due to an illness. Jaxon Castor, a junior goaltender, manned the net in the loss.

Freshman sensation Yaniv Perets stood on his head multiple times in the crease to bail out the Bobcats in key moments. Perets stopped 30 of 34 shots, but the quality of chances he had to face is arguably the most difficult he’s experienced all season. 

“It’s always nice having Yaniv in net, he gives us some confidence during those situations,” graduate defenseman Griffin Mendel said. “We’ve been taught the whole year, we just got to cover the back door and we didn’t give up any of those goals and we were blocking shots and clearing pucks when we could.”

Graduate transfer defenseman Brendan Less and senior forward T.J. Friedmann opened the scoring with two first-period goals. The lead didn’t last long as St. Cloud answered back with two of its own. The scoring went back-and-forth with senior forward Michael Lombardi giving the Bobcats a 3-2 lead before the Huskies tied it up once again.

After a poor second-period performance from the Bobcats, Mendel and junior defensemen Jayden Lee scored two of the biggest goals for the team this year in the final frame. Mendel broke a 3-3 tie just 27 seconds into the third with a shot from the point that had eyes through traffic.

Lee utilized his go-to hesitation shot to create space on the right dot before promptly firing the puck top shelf to give Quinnipiac a 5-3 lead roughly midway through the period.

The final minutes ended in a frenzy with St. Cloud taking 13 shot attempts over the last seven minutes, one of which found the back of the net to cut Quinnipiac’s lead down to one goal.

Ultimately, Perets and the Bobcats prevailed, sending the team to a Sunday night showdown at 6:30 p.m. against the No. 1 powerhouse Michigan with a date to the Frozen Four on the line. 

“They’re impressive, with the talent package they’ve put together,” Pecknold said. “I think for us, the first thing we need to do is we need to play better. We need to play to our identity, we did not do that tonight.”