Quinnipiac holds Yale to just five shots, takes Game 1 of ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals 3-0


Jason Bupp

Game 2 of the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals is set for Saturday, March 11, at 7 p.m.

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

HAMDEN, Conn — The Battle of Whitney Avenue returned to Hamden for the second time this season Friday night, only with raised stakes. Quinnipiac and Yale faced off in Game 1 of the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals, but identical to each of their last 10 matchups, the Bobcats mauled their regional rival, this time by a final score of 3-0. 

Quinnipiac allowed just five shots in the game, tying the lowest single game mark of any Division I men’s team dating back to at least 2002-03. Minnesota State held Lake Superior State to five shots on Nov. 27, 2021. 

“I thought it was a good win,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I thought we battled hard and Yale was battling. (Yale sophomore goaltender Luke) Pearson was really good in net.”

The game began in a stalemate of sorts. The Bobcats dominated possession for most of the opening period, but couldn’t get shots past a stout Yale defense that closed out effectively and crowded the slot area. 

As the period drew on, Quinnipiac created more and more chances, tallying five of its nine shots in the frame in the final five minutes, though the majority were limited to the perimeter of the offensive zone. 

The best of these chances came on a one-timer from graduate student forward Michael Lombardi as the clock neared zero. Several rebound attempts by graduate forward TJ Friedmann were stonewalled by Pearson, causing the puck to trickle out to senior forward Joey Cipollone. The New York native was tackled by a Yale player as he attempted to drive it into a wide-open net. 

The second period started in the opposite manner of the first. Quinnipiac solved the Bulldogs’ defense and put shots on Pearson early and often. Bobcats sophomore forward Jacob Quillan broke the deadlock just two minutes in, cleaning up a rebound after cutting across the goal mouth to give his team a 1-0 lead. 

“I thought we were a little sluggish to start the game, and (Quillan’s goal) kind of got us going,” Pecknold said. 

Sophomore forward Collin Graf picked up an assist on the goal, giving him his 50th point in 35 games this season and becoming the first Bobcat to reach 50 since Sam Anas in 2015-16. 

Quinnipiac kept piling on the pressure, testing Pearson from every angle until it found twine again. Junior defenseman Iivari Räsänen rifled a shot from the point off a feed from Graf that deflected off a Yale stick and into the back of the net. 

“I saw Nordqvist climbing back door so I actually tried to pass it to him and then I got a lucky bounce,” Räsänen said. 

Down 2-0 and struggling to create offensive opportunities, the Bulldogs ramped up their physicality. This culminated in a scrum between Bobcats’ graduate student defenseman Zach Metsa and Yale senior defenseman Cole Donhauser behind the play which sent Metsa’s helmet flying and both players to the penalty box. 

The officials attempted to regain control of the game in the period’s closing minutes, but were only successful in angering both Pecknold and Bulldogs’ head coach Keith Allian, who each exchanged heated words with the four-man crew as the teams headed into the intermission. 

“It’s a part of hockey, it’s going to happen, it’s going to escalate,” Pecknold said. “We were chippy too, it’s a two-way street, we’ve got some tough kids and they were battling.”

Despite only managing two shots for a second consecutive period, Yale nearly cut its deficit to one on multiple occasions. 

On the first, sophomore forward Will Dineen sent a shot behind Quinnipiac sophomore goaltender Yaniv Perets and across the blue paint, but no Bulldog was there to tap it home. 

Later in the period, Perets went to glove a deflected puck that was soaring towards the crease, but in the process fell into his own net, appearing to take the puck with him. The officials blew the whistle prior to Perets’ tumble, so it was no goal. 

The Bobcats had no trouble keeping their offensive onslaught rolling into the third period. Just 18 seconds in, Metsa sent a lofting shot over the shoulder of Pearson to extend Quinnipiac’s lead to three. 

Metsa’s tally was the final goal of the contest, but the rest of the game was not without fireworks. 

There were a combined 30 penalty minutes in the final frame, 21 assessed to Yale. The chippy play of the second period snowballed into the third, as players pushed, shoved and chirped one another to oblivion. 

At one point, all 10 skaters on the ice got involved in the action, an all out fracas that resulted in two major penalties and an ejection. 

Quinnipiac freshman forward Victor Czerneckianair, who’s hit started the mayhem, received a five-minute major for kneeing. Yale junior forward Niklas Allian received a major for cross-checking and a game misconduct for abuse of officials. 

The Bulldogs were unable to turn their physicality to offense, only mustering a single shot in the period as the Bobcats took Game 1 3-0. 

In the win, Perets broke both the program and ECAC Hockey record for career shutouts with No. 20 of his career and No. 9 of the season. 

These teams will meet again Saturday night in Game 2 of the best-of-three quarterfinal series with a trip to the ECAC Hockey semifinals in Lake Placid, New York, on the line. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.