All roads lead to Tampa: Quinnipiac and Ohio State set to face off in NCAA Regional Final


Peyton McKenzie

The No. 2 Quinnipiac men’s hockey team is one win away from their 3rd ever Frozen Four appearance.

Colin Kennedy, Staff Writer

The NCAA Tournament Regional Final in Bridgeport is set, with No. 2 Quinnipiac men’s hockey team facing off against No. 9 Ohio State for a spot in the Frozen Four, Sunday at 4 p.m.

Both teams are riding high following dominant first round wins. Quinnipiac topped Merrimack 5-0 and Ohio State crushed Harvard 8-1. Despite the big wins, both teams are expecting a battle for a spot in the national semifinals in two weeks time. 

“We’ll have our hands full,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said after the Bobcats’ first-round victory.

The Bobcats will need to have a similar defensive performance against the Buckeyes’ high-powered offense as they did versus Merrimack. Ohio State’s offensive attack is led by freshman forward Stephen Halliday (nine goals, 41 points), and leading sophomore forward Cam Thiesing (15 goals, 20 points). Thiesing added two goals himself in Friday’s drubbing against the Crimson. 

“It doesn’t really matter who we play,” Buckeyes graduate student forward Jake Wise said. “We’re still confident that we can play and even dominate teams.” 

Sophomore goaltender Jakub Dobeš mans the Buckeyes’ net, leading his team through a tough Big Ten conference this season. Dobeš tallied 21 saves against Harvard, and only allowed one goal, which came once the game was well in-hand. 

“They have a lot of great players, and they got a goalie, he’s big time,” Pecknold said. “One of the better goalies in college hockey.” 

Fortunately for Quinnipiac, it also has one of the nation’s top goaltenders in sophomore Yaniv Perets. The Hobey Baker finalist is coming off his 10th shutout of the season against Merrimack where he posted 15 saves. 

For the Bobcats to avoid a performance like Harvard’s, they’ll need a high-caliber performance from their defense. Led by graduate students Zach Metsa and Jake Johnson, Quinnipiac will have to alleviate the pressure Perets faces if it wants to book a flight to Tampa. 

“As a whole D-core we know we have to play to make life easy for Yaniv,” senior defenseman Jayden Lee said. “At the same time Yaniv’s a stud, you know he can bail us out.”

The Bobcats certainly have the offense to match the Buckeyes, led by sophomore forward Collin Graf (20 goals, 56 points), the leading goal and point-scorer on the team. Sophomore forward Jacob Quillian has also proved he can perform under the bright lights, netting a pair of goals in the first round. 

“They put a number on Harvard,” Graf said. “Definitely going to look at that game and see what they did to attack Harvard’s weaknesses.” 

Both teams will be heading into Sunday’s tilt with confidence, but when the final horn sounds only one team will be heading to the Frozen Four.