No. 2/3 Quinnipiac overpowers No. 9/10 Harvard in ECAC title game rematch


Cameron Levasseur

Quinnipiac men’s hockey in unbeaten in 16 straight games dating back to Oct. 23.

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

HAMDEN, Conn – In what was its biggest game of the season thus far, No. 2/3 Quinnipiac men’s hockey brought the energy to match, battling to a 4-1 victory over No. 9/10 Harvard Saturday in the teams’ first meeting since last year’s ECAC Hockey title match. 

“It’s a great win,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “Harvard’s obviously one of the better teams in the country, tons of talent, tons of great players, well coached. We knew it was going to be a battle. I thought the boys were ready and we played to our identity and we got rewarded.”

The Crimson, who were second only to the Bobcats in the ECAC Hockey standings, came into the game boasting an impressive 10-3-1 record and riding the momentum from a late three-goal comeback to topple Princeton Friday and spoil the Tigers’ Hobey 100 celebration. 

Harvard also rosters an NCAA-leading 15 NHL draft picks, but none of that mattered when the teams took the ice. 

Less than five minutes into the game the Bobcats struck. Sophomore forward Collin Graf picked up the puck breaking wide at the top of the offensive zone and beat every Harvard defender to the net, cutting across the blue paint and tucking the puck past the outstretched pad of Crimson senior goaltender Mitchell Gibson. 

Quinnipiac did a great job of containing Harvard’s offensive attack in the opening period. It slowed the Crimson’s break-in and forced shots to come from the perimeter. The visitors had a singular chance from the interior in the period, a lunging shot that went wide. 

“We didn’t really change anything, we did the same things we do every game,” Pecknold said. “You have to be aware of the three or four big guys they’ve got, be ready to help because they’re going to beat people one-on-one . We’ve got to have another layer and then sometimes you’ve got to have a third layer.” 

Dominating the game in the chance department, the Bobcats extended their lead to two in the period’s closing minutes. Graduate student forward Ethan de Jong corralled the puck out of a corner scrum and found graduate student defenseman Jake Johnson in the high slot, who sent it right back to de Jong on the doorstep for a tap-in. 


Freshman forward Sam Lipkin, who had the secondary assist on the play, missed the past two games while with Team USA at the World Junior Championships, but didn’t miss a beat jumping back into the Bobcats’ lineup. He posted two assists and played hard throughout, despite it being his third game in four days and eighth in the last 13.

“I was a little bit tired from the travel and obviously the games, but I felt pretty good out there,” Lipkin said. “I was excited to get back with the group.”

For most of the second period the teams traded stretches in the offensive zone, but neither could generate many quality chances. Every shot they put on net was met equally by Gibson and Quinnipiac sophomore goaltender Yaniv Perets. 

That changed with seven minutes to play in the period, as sophomore forward Cristophe Tellier cleaned up a point shot from senior defenseman Jayden Lee to put the Bobcats up three. 

Pecknold was impressed with Lee’s play throughout, as the North Vancouver native blocked shots and played tough defensively. 

“I thought Jayden was excellent tonight,” Pecknold said. “His retrievals, (he was) real detailed on picking up sticks net front, he blocked a couple of shots … excellent game.”

Despite the deficit, Harvard would not be put away easily. The Crimson stepped on the gas in the third period trying to recreate some of Friday night’s magic.

But Friday is not Saturday, and Quinnipiac is not Princeton. Harvard got one, put home by sophomore forward Alex Gaffney on one of the game’s few odd-man rushes, but could not get another. An empty-netter by senior forward Skylar Brind’Amour sealed a 4-1 victory for the Bobcats. 

“Personally for me, it’s probably the biggest game of the year,” Lipkin said. “We needed it for Cleary points and ECAC standings. We did what we needed to do to get the three points so I’m happy with the game.”

This win, coupled with losses for No. 1/2 Denver and No. 1/3 Minnesota, puts Quinnipiac in a prime position to jump up to the top spot in the national polls this week for the first time since Jan. 17, 2022.  

The Bobcats are next in action on Jan. 14, in the back half of a non-conference home-and-home with LIU as they look to avenge an early season tie with the national bottom feeder. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.