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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

Quinnipiac storms back from 3-1 deficit, wins third-straight Connecticut Ice title

Tripp Menhall
Quinnipiac celebrates after winning the 2024 Connecticut Ice Tournament with a 4-3 victory over UConn at the XL Center in Hartford on Jan. 27.

HARTFORD — After hitting snooze on the proverbial alarm clock for the last week and a half of hockey, Quinnipiac finally woke up halfway through the second period of Saturday’s Connecticut Ice Tournament final against UConn. The Bobcats roared back from a two-goal deficit and took the lead 4-3 early in the third to reign supreme as tournament champions for the third year running. 

“I love how we battled back from being down 3-1 and found a way to win,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “It was a big one.”

Graduate student forward Zach Tupker notched the game-winner just 28 seconds into the final period, walking into the offensive zone and ripping a shot glove-side high past Huskies senior Ethan Haider to make the game 4-3 Bobcats.

That score remained for the 19 minutes and 32 seconds that followed Tupker’s goal, but the intensity from both sides only continued to rise. Haider made several spectacular lunging stops to keep UConn within striking distance, while Quinnipiac senior netminder Vinny Duplessis put on a tournament MVP performance at the other, shutting the door on a Huskies team in desperation mode. 

“I have a lot of trust in our defensemen,” Duplessis said. “A big part of our game is to stay tight in the slot … the last couple of minutes I made a lot of saves, so I wasn’t really worried about it. I was pretty tight myself, kept my body tight, not letting anything out.”

The win was not only Quinnipiac’s third-straight title, but also its third-consecutive victory over UConn in the tournament final. 

“They found a way to win it again, so I’ve got to give them credit,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “It was a heavyweight match … and they got in one more punch than we did.”

Quinnipiac celebrates with the Connecticut Ice Tournament trophy after its third-consecutive tournament title on Jan. 27. (Colin Kennedy)

But a lackluster first period effort put doubt in that outcome. The Bobcats struggled with the pressure UConn applied on their breakout, handing the Huskies a number of great chances off turnovers in the defensive zone. 

Duplessis was up to the task on most of the Huskies’ chances, but even he eventually cracked under the high volume of quality looks. A seeing-eye shot from UConn graduate student defenseman Harrison Rees gave the tournament hosts the lead heading into the intermission. 

A turnover forced by senior forward Travis Treloar behind the Huskies’ net set up freshman forward Mason Marcellus to momentarily tie the game for the Bobcats. But another pair of Quinnipiac turnovers, this time at the offensive blue line, put UConn back in the driver’s seat shortly thereafter. 

Just seconds into a Bobcat power play, graduate student defenseman Jayden Lee fumbled the puck into a breakaway for Huskies junior forward Chase Bradley, who beat Duplessis shorthanded to retake the lead.

Two minutes later, it was sophomore defenseman Charles-Alexis Legault with a blue line bobble that ended with a tap-in goal for UConn sophomore forward Matthew Wood at the far post. 

Down 3-1 and poised for its third loss in four games, Quinnipiac flipped a switch. Under the gaze of over 6,400 fans at the XL Center, the Bobcats bought into the playoff atmosphere and began to play with fire. 

They connected on more passes, won more puck battles and played with more energy than they have in weeks. Less than four minutes after UConn extended its lead to two, sophomore forward Victor Czerneckianair struck back for Quinnipiac and the chase was on. 

“(Sophomore forwards Alex Power and Anthony Cipollone) did a good job of crashing the net,” Czerneckianair said. “I just floated one in there and it went in.”

Fifty-four seconds later, great puck movement on a zone entry left Treloar open for a one-timer that he rocketed past Haider to tie the game at three. 

“We want to create chaos and play fast and play at a pace,” Pecknold said. “I think it does wear teams down and teams start to make mistakes.”

Junior forward Cristophe Tellier appeared to have the go-ahead goal in the minutes that followed, but after a discussion between the officials it was ruled no goal due to a high stick without a review. 

“It was a goal. And then it wasn’t a goal without reviewing it. So I’m really confused as to what happened,” Pecknold said. “I will say this though, (Jeremy) Tufts is an elite ref, I’m pretty sure he was in the Frozen Four last year with us, so he’s one of the better ones in the country.”

With a recharged offense thanks to some mid-game line shuffling, Tellier’s almost-goal ultimately didn’t play a factor in the final result, as Quinnipiac adds another title to its trophy case and leaves the capital with momentum to build from. 

“I think this was huge for us,” Pecknold said. “To win a championship in that atmosphere, UConn was playing great down like that. There’s just a lot of positives we can take out of tonight.”

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About the Contributors
Cameron Levasseur
Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor
Tripp Menhall
Tripp Menhall, Creative Director
Colin Kennedy
Colin Kennedy, Managing Editor

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