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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Battle for Connecticut: Quinnipiac vies for three-peat at CT Ice

Aidan Sheedy
Quinnipiac celebrates their second-consecutive CT Ice championship following a 4-3 win over UConn on January 28, 2023.

For the first time in its four-year history, the CT Ice Tournament is heading north to the XL Center in Hartford. The stage might be bigger, but the prize remains the same. Come Saturday one of Connecticut’s four Division I teams will stand above the rest. Champions of Connecticut. 

Coming off last year’s two-night sellout at the M&T Bank Arena in Hamden, the tournament is expected to see its highest attendance totals yet in the 16,000-seat XL Center. As of Tuesday, UConn officials said 3,889 tickets have been sold for Friday and 4,570 for Saturday. 

“I wanted this tournament for a long time … (former Yale men’s hockey head coach)  Tim Taylor and I talked about it years ago, and we just never got it off the ground,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “It’s great for the state of Connecticut, it’s great for youth hockey.” 

With all four teams once again vying to be crowned kings of Connecticut, let’s look at where each stands heading into Friday’s semifinals. 


The Bobcats not only have a national title in their trophy case but also consecutive CT Ice trophies. Their most recent coming off a third-period comeback to take down UConn in the finals, 4-3, a year ago. 

Quinnipiac is in a weirdly similar position heading into the last weekend in January as it was last year. After getting swept on a New York road trip to Colgate and Cornell, the Bobcats are looking to use the tournament experience to turn things around. 

“(CT Ice) was a really good turning point in our season,” junior forward Collin Graf said. “That sort of started a nice little winning streak, so hopefully that’s what we can do.” 

Despite last weekend’s underwhelming results, Quinnipiac still sits at No. 8 in the nation with a rivalry matchup against Yale waiting in store for Friday’s second game. The Bobcats took down the Bulldogs 5-2 in their first meeting back in November in Hamden. 

Quinnipiac isn’t foreign to elimination-style games, claiming three tournament titles last season (Friendship Four, CT Ice, NCAA National Championship). The roster is full of players who have played in high-pressure moments, and the experience should give the Bobcats a clear advantage throughout the weekend. 

“I thought the Connecticut Ice experience for us last year was huge,” Pecknold said. “Anytime you can put that kind of pressure on your players, and find a way to get through it and find a way to learn from it … I think it’s going to help.” 


The Huskies certainly haven’t performed like the same team that met Quinnipiac in the finals just a year ago, putting together a 20-win season before falling in the Hockey East quarterfinals. 

They currently sit at 10-11-2, poised for their first sub-.500 season since 2020-2021. But UConn has notched a few good wins in the last month in Hockey East play against the likes of Maine, New Hampshire and UMass. 

“We’re still 21st in the pairwise … we’ve played a lot of good teams, and we’ve got a lot of great teams in front of us,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “In a lot of ways we can control our own destiny going forward.” 

Despite the lackluster year up to this point, UConn and some of its roster have played in its fair share of big games in recent seasons, one being the Hockey East championship in 2022, falling to UMass in overtime. 

A player to watch on the Huskies is junior forward Chase Bradley, who currently leads the team with 16 points (nine goals and seven assists). A 2020 NHL seventh-round draft pick, Bradley was a key contributor on the UConn team that appeared in the Hockey East finals two years ago. 

“It’s like playoff hockey … like middle of the season playoff hockey,” Bradley said. “I don’t think it gets any better. Great teams in the tournament. So it’s very exciting and I hope maybe get a trophy in the middle of the season, to boost your confidence.

This weekend is a big one for the Huskies, who sit just outside the bubble in terms of the pairwise. A CT Ice title against the defending national champions could give them the momentum they need heading into the rest of their season.

Sacred Heart 

Sacred Heart is on the surface, the odd-man out among the four teams in the tournament, as it plays in Atlantic Hockey – a weaker conference when compared to ECAC Hockey or Hockey East. But the Pioneers won the first iteration of CT Ice in 2020, and they could be a dark horse to do it again. 

“There are a lot of things that go into winning (a) championship, little details that we’re going to be able to let play out this weekend,” Sacred Heart head coach C.J. Marottolo said. “ (To) understand what it takes shift-to-shift to be in a position to win games when they matter most. 

Currently sitting atop the Atlantic Hockey standings, Sacred Heart has put together a solid season, and compared to the other teams in the tournament, it can score too. The Pioneers have potted 69 goals this season, good for second among their CT Ice competitors, only sitting behind Quinnipiac with 98. 

Sacred Heart also has a familiar player in between the pipes, sophomore goaltender Chase Clark, who transferred from Quinnipiac at the end of last season. Clark currently has a 2.83 goals allowed average and a record of 8-9-1 as a Pioneer. 

Sacred Heart sophomore goaltender Chase Clark prepares for a game against AIC on December 1, 2023. (Cameron Levasseur)

“He didn’t play much at Quinnipiac last year,” Marottolo said. “It was hard for him mentally and physically to get back into the groove of him playing. His confidence has gotten better every week.”

As of Tuesday, Marottolo was unsure if Clark would be in net for the tournament. 


Yale, like Sacred Heart, isn’t on the same level as Quinnipiac and UConn talent-wise, but have definitely made improvements since last year’s tournament. The Bulldogs only need one more win to match last season’s win total (eight).  

“We’re making strides,” Yale head coach Keith Allain said. “I think we’re better than we were last year, which was one of our goals coming into the season. I still think that we can be more consistent in our play. But I think that’s just part of the growth.”

Yale is certainly treating Friday’s matchup against Quinnipiac as a big game, using the rivalry as extra motivation to try and knock off the Bobcats. 

“We treat it like it’s the last game we’re ever going to get to play, and we want to play with that enthusiasm,” Allain said. “This game is no different. I mean, there’s a little more at stake here in the sense that not only is there a berth in the championship of the tournament, but there are league points at stake.” 

The Bulldogs believe they are in a position to start playing their best hockey, and that it all can start Friday night. 

“We had a spurt where we were playing really good hockey,” senior forward Reilly Connors said. “We don’t feel like we’ve played our best hockey yet, which we’re excited to kind of get this test against Quinnipiac.”

The action kicks off tonight when Sacred Heart takes on UConn at 4 p.m., and Quinnipiac faces off against Yale at 7:30 p.m.

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Colin Kennedy
Colin Kennedy, Managing Editor
Cameron Levasseur
Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor
Aidan Sheedy
Aidan Sheedy, Photography Editor

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