Quinnipiac advances to CT Ice final, defeats Sacred Heart 5-0 in Pecknold’s 600th win


Aidan Sheedy

Graduate student forward Ethan de Jong tallied his 11th goal of the season Friday night.

Colin Kennedy, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – The No. 3/4 Quinnipiac men’s hockey team got back on track tonight, taking down Sacred Heart 5-0 in the semifinal game of the Connecticut Ice Tournament. The win marked Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold’s 600th with the program. 

The win cemented Pecknold’s place in NCAA Division I hockey history as he is only the 11th coach to reach the 600 mark, and the third to reach it with one program. 

“I’m really lucky to have the support that I’ve had here from Quinnipiac,” Pecknold said. “But we got to reload here and get ready for 601.” 

Following two years at the Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, the CT Ice Tournament is being played at M&T Bank Arena in Hamden, where the Bobcats are all well aware of the advantage they have. 

“The crowd was rocking, the rink was great, the fans were great,” Pecknold said. 

Quinnipiac looked right at home all night, but Sacred Heart didn’t back down from the fight, as the Pioneers came out aggressively. While not generating much in terms of offense, Sacred Heart stifled the Bobcats’ attack in the early stages of the first period en route to blocking 19 shots throughout the game. 

“They were a really good hockey team,” Pecknold said. “They gave us all we could handle.” 

The momentum of the game all changed when sophomore right wing Collin Graf showed why he is a Hobey Baker Award nominee. Graf was able to outmaneuver two Pioneer defenders and buried the puck through senior goaltender Luke Lush’s five-hole to give Quinnipiac the one-goal lead. 

Going into the first intermission, the Bobcats held onto the lead, but they knew Sacred Heart wasn’t going away. 

“We’ve talked all year long, everybody we play it’s their Super Bowl,” Pecknold said. “They were really good in the first period, and we had to weather the storm a little bit.” 

In the second period Quinnipiac began to look like its old self again. Twelve minutes in, graduate right winger Ethan de Jong sent a loose puck into the back of the net, giving the Bobcats their second goal of the night. 

“It was important to go out there and set the tone early,” Graf said. “Go back to the way we know we can play.” 

Senior right winger Joey Cipollone continued the attack later in the second period. Sophomore left winger Christophe Fillion picked up a Sacred Heart turnover and sauced the puck over to Cippollone, who delivered a one-time slap shot past Lush. 

The scoring didn’t stop there, as Graf came back for seconds at the goal scoring table. Graf’s left-to-right puck move left a sprawling Lush with no answers and the sophomore transfer with his 14th goal of the season. 

The Pioneers were searching for offensive answers all night, but they had trouble getting anything past the Bobcats defense and sophomore goaltender Yaniv Perets, who earned his fifth shutout of the season. Sacred Heart almost lit the lamp when junior right winger John Jaworski rattled the puck off the left post. 

Later in the third, graduate student centerman TJ Friedmann slammed the door shut on Sacred Heart when his shot squeaked through the five-hole of Lush and dribbled into the goal. The late goal put Quinnipiac up five and turned its attention toward the main event tomorrow night. 

“We say we’ve got our five trophies we want to win throughout the year with the Connecticut Ice being one of them,” Friedmann said. 

Quinnipiac will now move on to play No. 12 UConn tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in the tournament championship game.