No. 2 Quinnipiac shuts down No. 8 Harvard, sweeps season series with 3-0 shutout


Benjamin Yeargin

Quinnipiac men’s hockey sits firmly atop the ECAC standings following Friday’s win, five points above next-closest Harvard with two games in hand.

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – On one of the coldest days in recent memory, No. 2 Quinnipiac men’s hockey survived the heat of one of the nation’s best offenses, shutting out No. 8 Harvard 3-0 to hand the Crimson its first home loss of the season. 

“They’re one of the most talented teams in the country,” Bobcats’ head coach Rand Pecknold said. “They jumped us a little bit in the first period and (sophomore goaltender) Yaniv (Perets) was excellent. I thought we made a couple of key blocks, sacrifices tonight to keep (the game) steady after one and then we got our legs under us and were much better in the second and third.”

The first period was eventful in every fashion but on the scoreboard. The two teams traded chances on the offensive end and came up big defensively, meeting every challenge the other threw at it. 

The chances generated felt like a role reversal for the two offenses from previous games. Quinnipiac created a majority of its opportunities in the transition game, while Harvard dominated puck possession in the Bobcats’ defensive zone for long stretches. But neither strategy worked, and after 20 minutes the game was still knotted at zero. 

That changed quickly as the teams took the ice for the middle frame. Still on power play from a late first period infraction, Quinnipiac quickly capitalized on the man-advantage. 

Sophomore forward Collin Graf one-timed a shot from just below the face-off dot, forcing Crimson senior goaltender Mitchell Gibson to make an incredible lunging save across the crease. Unfortunately for Gibson, senior forward Skyler Brind’Amour was there to clean up the rebound and give the Bobcats a 1-0 advantage just 53 seconds in. 

That lead held heading into the third period, but that wouldn’t be for a lack of Harvard chances. The Crimson created several odd-man rushes and threw shot after shot at the Quinnipiac net as the period wore on, but the Bobcats’ commitment to shot blocking and a key mistake from the home squad ensured that the advantage remained. 

Quinnipiac’s defense blocked five shots in the period, including several that were likely goals. Both graduate students Ethan de Jong and TJ Friedmann, forwards, and Jake Johnson, a defenseman, each blocked shots that were likely goals at the goalmouth, showcasing just how committed the Bobcats’ veterans are to this team. 

“You want to win, you’ve got to eat pucks,” Pecknold said. “The guys are willing to make sacrifices whether it’s that or the back check when you’re tired, the little things. Everything matters.”

Both Johnson and de Jong headed to the locker room in pain for their efforts, but the pair returned to the ice to help Quinnipiac close the game out. 

Near the midway point of the frame, Harvard junior forward Sean Farrell took off on a breakaway following a Bobcats’ turnover, but opted to try a drop pass to sophomore forward Matthew Coronato, resulting in the puck heading in the opposite direction on what could have been the Crimson’s best chance of the evening. 

As the game clock headed towards zero in the final period, the physicality ramped up. Both teams threw the body around with equal force, but only one side found the back of the net. 

A mishandled pass sent in front of Harvard’s net fell right on the stick of sophomore forward Christophe Fillion, who wasted no time burying the puck past Gibson to give his team a more comfortable lead. 

The Crimson desperately tried to claw back into the game in the minutes that followed, but every shot met a Bobcats’ defender or sophomore goaltender Yaniv Perets, who was more than up to the task. Perets stopped 25 shots en route to his sixth shutout of the season.

“He’s one of the better goalies in the country and he’s locked in right now,” Pecknold said. 

Friedmann buried an empty-netter with four seconds remaining to seal the win for Quinnipiac, the first time it’s swept Harvard since the 2015-16 season. 

The Bobcats continue their trek north to Hanover, New Hampshire, meeting Dartmouth on Saturday. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m.