‘If we play our game, we can beat anyone’: Quinnipiac and Merrimack break down Friday’s NCAA Tournament matchup


Connor Coar

Quinnipiac men’s hockey enters the Bridgeport regional seeking its first Frozen Four appearance since 2016.

Colin Kennedy, Staff Writer

BRIDGEPORT, Conn – Before the puck is dropped Friday, members of both the Quinnipiac and Merrimack men’s hockey teams took time to speak with the media to discuss their upcoming Regional semifinal matchup. 

If one thing is clear following Thursday’s media availability, it’s that both teams know they have their work cut out for them come puck drop. 

“I think they’re physical, they get in a lot of battles, they win a lot of battles,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “We need to prepare for Merrimack, but I think we need to do a good job of preparing ourselves.”

The Bobcats know they’ll have to play better than in last weekend’s ECAC Hockey Tournament loss to Colgate if they want to defeat the Warriors. 

“We didn’t manage our emotions well,” Pecknold said. “We talked about how you’re never going to have a perfect game, you’re going to have bad shifts, it’s resetting and moving on from that bad shift. Not dwelling on it and making it a bad game.”

Pecknold’s sentiment was echoed by his players.

“We got to play our game,” senior defenseman Jayden Lee said. “I think if we play our game we can beat anyone, we just have to stick to the game plan.”

Merrimack, on the other hand, hasn’t lost a game in regulation since Jan. 21 against Northeastern, but it too knows it might take its best game yet to knock off the Bobcats. 

“We know we’re playing a great team that’s won 30 hockey games, that’s actually kind of intimidating,” Merrimack head coach Scott Borek said. “I’m very, very comfortable that we’re going to play for each other and we’re going to do everything we can for each other to be successful. And if that’s not enough, then it’s not enough. But we’re hoping it is.” 

For the Merrimack players, they’re treating this Regional semifinal just like any other game. 

“We’re kind of not making this more than what it is, which is just another game,” senior forward Ben Brar said. “(We’ve) just got to go out there and play our game, and not make it more of a moment than it is.” 

The Warriors also know that in order to advance to Sunday’s regional final they’re going to have to defeat one of the nation’s top goaltenders in sophomore Yaniv Perets. 

“I mean their goalie is one of the best in the country, but we have all the confidence in the world in our two goalies,” Brar said. “We know we can match up well with anybody anytime we get on the ice, and we have the confidence we can beat any team in the country.” 

It was evident that Merrimack’s confidence was at an all-time high heading into Friday’s game, but only time will tell if it will be enough to take down top-seeded Quinnipiac.