Frozen Four: Quick start helps Quinnipiac reach final

By Jess Myers, The Sports Xchange

TAMPA, Fla. -- With a trip to the NCAA title game at stake, Quinnipiac got right to work on Thursday.

The top-ranked Bobcats jumped on Boston College early, taking a two-goal lead in the first period on the way to a 3-2 win in a NCAA Frozen Four semifinal.


Kevin McKernan, Andrew Taverner and Landon Smith scored goals for the Bobcats (32-3-7), and goalie Michael Garteig had 34 saves as Quinnipiac advanced to the NCAA championship game for the second time in four years.

The Bobcats will play North Dakota on Saturday for the championship.

"We don't have to be perfect if we're ultra-competitive," Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. "They can beat one guy, they can beat two, they can beat three, but we're going to have a fourth and fifth guy there and I think you saw that tonight in waves."


Alex Tuch and Ryan Fitzgerald scored for the Eagles, who trailed 2-0 halfway through the first period and were doomed by the slow start. Thatcher Demko had 27 saves for Boston College (28-8-5).

The Bobcats needed less than three minutes to take the lead, taking advantage of a giveaway behind the Eagles' net.

Demko made a save and blindly steered the puck behind him, where Bobcats fourth-line winger Scott Davidson got possession and zipped a pass to McKernan, who was crashing in from the blue line. McKernan's low shot beat Demko between the post and the goalie's left leg pad. It was the fourth goal of the season for McKernan and his first since Feb. 26.

"On the big stage, I think it's normal to be a little bit nervous," Eagles defenseman Steve Santini said. "We had a lot of freshmen in the lineup, not that that's an excuse. But if you're going to play a perfect game for 60 minutes, you're going to be national champion, and only one team gets to do that."

Taverner made it 2-0 for Quinnipiac five minutes later, getting a rising shot past Demko on the blocker side. Another Boston College turnover started the play, with Travis St. Denis intercepting a loose puck and feeding a pass to Taverner for the goal.


"In spurts, we were really good," Pecknold said. "I thought we were controlling certain parts of it in the first and then we took a bad penalty and let them back in."

The Eagles had two first-period power plays but could not get on the scoreboard until the second. On the opening shift of the second period, Casey Fitzgerald shot from the blue line, Colin White redirected the puck and Garteig made the save. However, the rebound popped right to Tuch, who tapped it in to make the score 2-1.

It stayed that way until the Bobcats got their first power play of the game, and they needed just nine seconds on the man-advantage to take a 3-1 lead. With the puck bouncing around near Demko, Smith cleaned up the mess with his 12th goal of the season.

"We had a nice faceoff and the puck went down to Tim Clifton, who made a nice play to the net," Smith said. "The puck kind of went over Demko and I was behind him and got a couple swipes at it."

Frustrated on their first four power plays, the Eagles finally got one with the man-advantage with 4:16 to play in the game. Fitzgerald slammed home the rebound of a long-range shot by Ian McCoshen.


"I thought we got stronger as the game went on," Boston College coach Jerry York said. "Maybe in the second period, there are ebbs and flows in the game. I liked the way we rebounded and even when it was 3-1 I thought we were capable of coming back."

The Eagles pulled Demko for an extra attacker with less than two minutes to play and pressured the Bobcats, but Garteig made a glove save on a McCoshen slap shot in the final seconds to preserve the win.

NOTES: Thursday's game was the first-ever meeting between Boston College and Quinnipiac. They are also scheduled to play next season in the semifinals of the Three Rivers Classic, a holiday tournament in Pittsburgh. ... This was the second Frozen Four appearance for the Bobcats. They advanced to the title game of the 2013 Frozen Four in Pittsburgh but fell to Yale in the final. ... Boston College was making its seventh Frozen Four appearance in the past decade. The Eagles last won the NCAA title in 2012, the only other time that Tampa was the host, beating Ferris State in the final. ... Both teams' rosters featured Floridians playing in their home state. Boston College junior C Austin Cangelosi is from Estero, and Quinnipiac freshman D Chase Priskie is from Pembroke Pines.


Latest Headlines