Hamden South: Quinnipiac fans flood Bridgeport for NCAA Regional Final


Aidan Sheedy

Attendance for Sunday’s Bridgeport Regional Final is listed as 4,557, nearly 1,200 more fans than attended the 2022 regional final between Quinnipiac and Michigan in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Colin Kennedy, Staff Writer

A 30-minute drive is all that separates Quinnipiac’s campus from Total Mortgage Arena, where the men’s hockey team won the NCAA Regional Final on Sunday.

Normally, come tournament time, most fans are forced to watch their favorite team through a screen. This year, however, the Bobcat faithful showed up and showed out for both nights in Bridgeport.

“Our fans are great, we get so much energy off them,” graduate student forward Michael Lombardi said after the team’s 5-0 win against Merrimack Friday. “The band was great, the crowd was awesome, and I think we just fed really well off that.”

Total Mortgage Arena could have been mistaken for Quinnipiac’s M&T Bank Arena with the sea of gold and navy that swarmed the lower bowl to watch the Bobcats punch their ticket to the Frozen Four.

“Quinnipiac’s just had a great year this year, and I think they’re gonna make a really deep run,” said Bryan D’Esposito, a junior accounting major. “I wanted to come out and support the great team that we have.”

Deafening “Let’s go Bobcats” chants echoed through the rink as the final seconds ticked off the clock on Sunday, sending the Bobcats to Tampa, Florida.

“It was great. I mean everybody was very loud tonight, and it helps get our legs going,” sophomore forward Cristophe Tellier said after the victory Sunday. “We fed off them so thank you to everybody for coming out.”

NCAA regionals have seen low attendance in the past, given that teams often play hours away from campus. Fortunately for Quinnipiac, a 30-win season landed them a No. 1 seed and the closest regional site, which just happened to be in Bridgeport.

“We worked all year to get that one seed, and it paid off in Bridgeport,” sophomore forward Collin Graf said Friday. “It was a great crowd, great energy, and I was enjoying every minute of it.”

The university capitalized on the opportunity to create a home-ice advantage, even while away from home.

“The school was lucky enough to provide us with transportation and free tickets,” said Anthony Rossi, a senior 3+1 finance major. “So I gotta come out and support the team.”

Having the opportunity to see your school compete in the NCAA Tournament doesn’t come around often, so students jumped at the chance to attend. A wave of gold filled multiple sections, and students created a pulsating energy that could be felt through every minute of playoff hockey.

“They were great, we saw the shirts right when we came out, they had the big wall there,” Lombardi said. “When we have fans in the building they’re our lifeline, and we get so much energy off them.”

The players had a job to take care of this weekend, but the students knew they could play a part in sending the team to Tampa as well.

“I just knew the team needed the juice today, they needed the energy and we had to bring it,” said Will Rotko, a senior health science studies major.

Every fan had their reason for heading down to Bridgeport to support the Bobcats, whether it was the free ticket, a chance to get off campus or just tagging along with friends. Whatever the reason was, a common theme rang throughout the arena: They wanted to see Quinnipiac make history.

Even some super fans were in attendance, hoping to see a win and book a trip to Tampa themselves.

“I’m buying a plane ticket to Tampa Bay when they win,” said Jordan Shankman, a first-year criminal justice major.

En route to punching their ticket to Tampa, the loudest point of the weekend came in the third period, when Tellier knocked home the game-sealing goal. His tally sent the crowd into a frenzy that lasted well into the night.

The student section soaked in every last minute of Sunday’s win, staying long after the final horn to celebrate the moment with the players. At that point in time, it was safe to say that every Quinnipiac student echoed the sentiments of first-year nursing major Lauren Goggin.

“Let’s go Bobcats! We’re gonna win the NCAA Tournament!” Goggin said.

It’s not every day, not even every year, that you get to see your team do something so momentous, and Bobcat Nation took advantage of being close to home, transforming Bridgeport into Hamden South. In the process of doing so they were a part of an iconic moment in Quinnipiac history that won’t soon be forgotten.