The Quinnipiac Bobcats meet at center ice before practicing Friday at Consol Energy Center for the Frozen Four championship tonight.
Yale used its speed and offensive tenacity to beat Massachusetts Lowell Thursday. The Bulldogs swarmed the River Hawks net and launched 47 shots. The winning goal in overtime came from a familiar source in senior captain Andrew Miller, who is tied for the team lead with 17 goals. Quinnipiac beat up on St. Cloud State early with three goals in the first 11:19. Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored the opening goal and notched an assist on the second. The Bobcats don't boast any prolific scorers, but have gotten offense by committee this season while averaging 3.1 goals per game.
The Bobcats lead Division I in team defense, allowing 1.62 goals per game. Senior Zach Davies anchors the defensemen. Goalie Eric Hartzell faced 34 shots from St. Cloud State. The key for Quinnipiac, though, was limiting the Huskies to bad-angle or long-distance shots and holding them to very few scoring chances. Yale shut down Massachusetts Lowell's transition game and limited the River Hawks to 18 shots, none in overtime. The Bulldogs defense has been strong in the postseason, holding all three NCAA tournament opponents to two goals or fewer in their run to the title game.
Hartzell was a Hobey Baker finalist for a reason. The senior posted a 1.53 goals-against average this season, third-best in Division I. During Quinnipiac's 21-game unbeaten streak, Hartzell was the key. He did his job Thursday night, turning away all but one St. Cloud State shot and frustrating the Huskies offense. His counterpart, Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm, had a calmer night Thursday, but stopped 16 shots to get the Bulldogs to the title game. Malcolm, though, said he didn't mind getting a bit less action than usual and can stay focused despite long droughts between shots.
Quinnipiac boasts Division I's best penalty kill, shutting down 90.9 percent of opposing teams' power plays. Yale scored one goal at the tail end of a power play Thursday and another right after a power play ended. The Bulldogs power play is ranked No. 10 in the country. Quinnipiac struggled on the power play this season and has converted on just 14.9 percent of their chances. It has been much better, however, in the postseason,, and Jordan Samuels-Thomas' power-play goal to open the scoring against St. Cloud State was the Bobcats' fourth power-play goal of the tournament.