Quinnipiac sweeps Yale, advances to ECAC Hockey Semifinals with 6-2 win


Jason Bupp

Quinnipiac graduate student defenseman Zach Metsa has a goal and two assists in Saturday’s 6-2 win over Yale.

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

HAMDEN, Conn. – On the back of six goals from six different players, Quinnipiac men’s hockey rolled over Yale 6-2 in Game 2 of the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals Saturday night, sweeping the series and advancing to face Colgate in the semifinal round. 

With the win, the Bobcats broke the 30-win plateau for the fourth time in program history and finished their home slate with a 15-0-1 record on home ice, the only team in the country to go unbeaten at home. 

“We don’t lose at home, and that’s something that we’re going to keep moving forward here,” senior defenseman Jayden Lee said. “We take a lot of pride and passion in playing in our barn. We don’t let other teams come in here and walk on us.”

Unlike in Game 1, the Bobcats offense found the back of the net early. Just under three minutes in, graduate student forward Michael Lombardi sent a pass to Lee at the point. He curled across the top of the zone and sent a low shot on net that Lombardi tipped home. 

Quinnipiac doubled its lead in the period’s waning minutes. On the first power play of the night, the Bobcats peppered Bulldogs sophomore goaltender Luke Pearson. He was able to make a phenomenal save on the initial attack, but a one-timer from sophomore forward Collin Graf at the left face-off dot just snuck under the crossbar to extend the home team’s lead to two. 

Graf’s tally was his 20th of the season, becoming the first Quinnipiac player to reach the mark since Sam Anas (24) and Travis St. Denis (22) both did so in 2015-16. 

It was also yet another power-play goal for the Bobcats, who’s man-advantage unit has been night and day compared to last season, which, combined with a stout penalty kill, make Quinnipiac a formidable opponent on special teams. 

“I’m happy with the power play,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “The penalty kill has been really good the last month or so, I think it’s been kind of trending up, so I think both of those systems are in pretty good shape.” 

Despite the early deficit, Yale would not go away easy with its season on the line. The Bulldogs generated several meaningful chances in the first period, including a cross-crease setup smothered by Bobcats sophomore goaltender Yaniv Perets. Yale out-shot the Bobcats 10-8 in the opening frame, doubling its shot total from all 60 minutes of the series opener. 

But unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the second period started nearly identical to the first. Back on the power play under four minutes in, Lee sent another shot on net, this time redirected by sophomore forward Cristophe Tellier to make it a 3-0 Quinnipiac lead. 

Pecknold discussed after Game 1 how his team needed to get more traffic in front of the net. The first and third goals of Saturday’s game, each of which came off Lee’s stick, epitomized Quinnipiac’s ability to make changes easily. 

“We’ve got a real mature group, and we’ll buy in,” Lee said. “If Rand sees something, he knows what he’s talking about, so the group as a whole will buy in, and it works, we got more traffic to the net.”

The Bobcats added another near the mid-way mark of the period, as sophomore forward Jacob Quillan spun off a Yale defender and beat Pearson from the mid-slot. 

Trying to claw back into the game, the Bulldogs answered back just 19 seconds later. Senior forward Quinton Ong beat Perets on an odd-man rush to cut the deficit to three. 

Yale’s Achilles’ heel all night was its discipline, the Bulldogs took four of their six penalties on the evening in the second period alone, helping keep their own offense at bay.  

Ironically, the road squad brought the game to within striking distance while on the penalty kill to start the third. Junior forward Reilly Connors caught a pass behind the Bobcats’ defense and converted on his opportunity to make it 4-2 less than a minute into the final frame. 

Goals from graduate student forward Ethan de Jong and graduate student defenseman Zach Metsa three minutes apart put a halt to any hope of a Yale comeback, but the Bulldogs’ surge gave the Bobcats another lesson in adversity. 

“Teams only get better and better as you move further into the playoffs,” Metsa said. “Mistakes are going to happen, goals are going to happen. It’s a great opportunity, a great lesson for us to learn how to keep on rebounding and sticking to our game and not letting anything get to us.”

Quinnipiac closed out the game strong to sweep the series and advance to the conference semifinals in Lake Placid, New York for a date with Colgate on Friday, March 17. The Raiders upset St. Lawrence in a quarterfinal battle between the No. 4 and 5 seeds.