PITTSBURGH -- There will be a first-time champion crowned in college hockey Saturday evening when the Quinnipiac Bobcats take on in-state and ECAC-rival Yale in the final of the 2013 Frozen Four.
In a lot of ways it's an absolutely shocking matchup for the national championship game, but in a lot of ways it's also completely fitting. It may not be Michigan vs. Boston College, but Quinnipiac has been the No. 1 team for nearly the entire second half of the season, and Yale knocked off two perennial powerhouses in Minnesota and North Dakota and the Vegas-favored UMass-Lowell River Hawks to get to the title game. Not only did they upset all three teams, but they made it look easy in the process.
The Bobcats are the nation's top defensive club, led in goal by Hobey Baker Award finalist Eric Hartzell and on defense by four seniors -- Zach Davies, Loren Barron, Mike Dalhuisen and captain Zack Currie. QU boasts 11 seniors in total, a big reason for their success according to head coach Rand Pecknold.
"They're veterans," said Pecknold. "Ton of game experience with those seniors, and you can't substitute for game savvy. They deal with adversity well. They deal with adapting within the game."
The Bobcats are led offensively by their top line of Matthew Peca and the Jones brothers, Connor and Kellen. The trio have combined for 40 goals and 83 points this season. The Bulldogs also boast a number of dynamic offensive talents, led by Flames prospect Kenny Agostino and senior Andrew Miller, but Quinnipiac is considered a bit deeper offensively with three lines that can score well.
Quinnipiac's depth shouldn't necessarily worry Yale, however, which has proven in this tournament that they can bottle up the best offensive teams in the country and slice up the best defensive teams in the nation. The Bobcats have defeated Yale three times so far this season, but the Bulldogs look at that as more of a learning experience than something to worry about Saturday night.
"There is a reason they've been the top-ranked team in the country for most of the year," head coach Keith Allain said, "certainly the whole second half of the year. But as has been alluded to earlier, I think the details in our game and our individuals was better now than they were the last time we faced them. So I think we're up to the task."
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. ESPN in the United States has the live telecast and TSN2 has the feed in Canada.