The 2013 Frozen Four has become more than a battle for the national championship, it’s become a battle for the state of Connecticut. The Frozen Four semifinals saw both Yale and Quinnipiac advancing with victories, giving each school a shot at their first NCAA hockey title. This will be the fourth meeting between the conference rivals this year. The game will be televised Saturday, April 13, on ESPN at 6:00 pm Central. To learn who will take home the national championship, continue after the jump.
Yale University Bulldogs
Season Record: 21-12-3
ECAC Regular Season, 3rd Place
West Regional Champions
Coach: Keith Allain (7th season)
Leading Scorer: Kenny Agostino (17-23-40)
Goalie: Jeff Malcom (2.325 GAA, .915 SV%, 2 SO)
The Bulldogs saw no jitters at their first Frozen Four in 50 years, jumping out to a 2-0 lead against UMass Lowell. Yale only struggled for fourteen seconds in the game, giving up two quick goals to allow the Riverhawks to tie the game in the second. Other than that, Yale controlled the game, outshooting the Riverhawks 47-18. While the Bulldogs controlled the game, they needed an extra session to finally get a third goal past standout goalie Connor Hellebuyck, and punch their ticket to the title game. For a team that struggled down the stretch, they have found a way to dominate in the postseason, and remain without a loss when going to overtime. For Yale to win their first national title at this year’s Frozen Four, they will need to turn up the pressure against a team who has been the consensus #1 for most of the season. All the ingredients are there for this team to hoist the trophy Saturday night, the only question is if they can find a way to beat a team that they have already lost to three times this year. The Bulldogs have already taken down teams with bigger pedigrees than themselves this season, and Quinnipiac will be a team that they should know well by this point in the season. If they can pinpoint what went wrong in previous meetings, keep things tight, and maybe even go into an extra session again (6-0-3 in overtime this year), the Bulldogs will have a good chance to end the Frozen Four with the school’s first ever NCAA hockey championship.
Quinnipiac University Bobcats
Season Record: 30-7-3
ECAC Regular Season Champions
East Regional Champions
Coach: Rand Pecknold (19th season)
Leading Scorer: Jeremy Langlois (13-18-31)
Goalie: Eric Hartzell (1.548 GAA, .934 SV%, 5 SO)
In a sporting year that has seen many significant streaks (Miami Heat, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Gophers women’s hockey), the Bobcats put together a pretty significant streak of their own. Quinnipiac went 21 games without a loss this season, and have shown that they could be one of the new hockey heavyweights this season. The stingiest team in the country is being backstopped by a Hobey Baker finalist in Eric Hartzell, and is loaded with seniors who haven’t wilted under the post season pressure. The path to the Frozen four has been pretty smooth for the Bobcats, and their Frozen Four semifinal was not much different, as the Bobcats jumped on St. Cloud State early, taking a 3-0 lead into the first intermission. For a team that has controlled play all season long, the school’s first ever Frozen Four appearance did not disappoint. This is a team who has not shown mercy on any of its opponents, and definitely will not show mercy to a Yale team that they already beat thrice this season by a combined score of 13-3. The only thing standing between Quinnipiac and its first national championship is complacency. If the Bobcats continue to play their brand of hockey, they should expect to finish Saturday night on top of the college hockey world.
Championship Game Preview
These two schools are only about ten miles apart, but millions of miles apart in terms of history and prominence. This is more than just a battle for a national title at the Frozen Four. This is a battle between an historic school, and an upstart. It’s a battle of the Nutmeg State. It’s a burgeoning conference rivalry that can be expected to intensify in the coming years after this game. Both teams have been very good scoring this postseason, and Yale has seen its back end rise to the challenge of postseason hockey. Quinnipiac has continued to shut down opponents and keep them off the scoreboard consistently. If the Bulldogs have a lull like they had against both Minnesota and UMass Lowell this postseason (giving up 2 goals burst in a short period of time), the talented Quinnipiac team might be too much for them. Both teams know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s very likely that the team who jumps on the scoreboard first will have a chance to dictate the flow of the game. For one night only, Connecticut has the right to call itself the State of Hockey. After the dust settles at the Frozen Four, one of these teams will become national champions. Expect a streak to continue on Saturday night at the Frozen Four: the Bobcats will continue their winning ways against the Bulldogs, allowing Quinnipiac to be crown national champions in Pittsburgh.
Prediction: Quinnipiac 3-1
That’s all for this year in college hockey. Hopefully you enjoyed the last season of the classic college hockey format. Next season will be interesting with the seismic shift of conference members, and the inaugural season of the Big Ten hockey conference. But don’t worry, the 2013-14 college hockey season will be upon us before you know it.
Bryan Vickroy has an addiction to hockey, and is willing to partake in all its forms. He is skating extra shifts for The Sports Bank, covering the Minnesota Wild, the NHL, and NCAA hockey, including the Frozen Four, all year long. Look for new articles throughout the week. He can be followed on Twitter at @bryanvickroy. If you’d prefer to speak in more than 140 characters at a time to him, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.