The final game of the college hockey season will be a battle of Connecticut-based ECAC schools. Yale and Quinnipiac will clash on Saturday for the fourth time this season (the Bobcats have taken the prior three games), but this time, a National Championship will be on the line. Let's recap how the two schools got here via wins during last night's semifinals.
Yale 3, UMass-Lowell 2 (OT): What was most surprising, from an outsider's perspective at least, was how well Yale was able to work their speed game, and how content UMass-Lowell was willing to let them do that. The Bulldogs dominated this game for the most part, outshooting the Riverhawks 48-17, including 16-3 in the third period. A No. 1-seeded team in the tournament was getting outshot 16-3 in the third period of a tied national semifinal.
Yale struck twice in the first period, as Mitch Witek notched a power play goal to make it 1-0 at 12:55, while Antoine Laganiere added an even strength tally at 19:08 to surprise everyone and put the Bulldogs up 2-0 after one period. In the second, UMass-Lowell played probably their best period of the game, only getting outshot 13-10 and scoring twice in 14 seconds to even the game. Riley Wetmore and Joseph Pendenza both got goals at 14:38 and 14:52 to make it 2-2. Wetmore had the best UMass-Lowell scoring chance of the third period but, it uh... didn't work out.
The teams took it to overtime, where at 6:59, Andrew Miller (who'd had an assist already on the Witek goal) broke in and went five hole on Riverhawks goaltender Connor Hellebuyck to win the game for Yale, who'd likely deserved it all along. Seriously, this was about as dominant a 3-2 overtime win as you could get, and now the Bulldogs look for their first national championship on Saturday.
Quinnipiac 4, St. Cloud State 1: The dominant Connecticut team was, perhaps, more justly rewarded by the score in the other semifinal. Qunnipiac showed up here on business, scoring three times in the first period to put this one pretty much out of reach. Though the Huskies got off more shots (34-28) in the game, Eric Hartzell played extremely well, and the Bobcats got those quick, early goals and never looked back.
Things got started in a flash, as Joey Benik went off for a hooking penalty at 1:42, and seven seconds later, Jordan Samuels-Thomas struck to make it 1-0. Just three minutes and 18 seconds later, Samuels-Thomas (the only Connecticut native on the team) assisted on Ben Arnt's goal to make it 2-0. Jeremy Langlois added a third at 11:19, and all of a sudden it was 3-0 Quinnipiac headed to the first intermission.
The second period saw some improvement from St. Cloud State, and they were rewarded with a goal. Benik scored at 6:25 to make it 3-1. Later in the period, however, Quinnipiac put it away for good. Kellen Jones scored at 14:31 to make it 4-1, a lead that would never change for the last 25:29 of playing time. The Bobcats will head to the championship game on Saturday to take on the Bulldogs.