PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The No. 1 Quinnipiac men's ice hockey team punched themselves a ticket to the 2013 Men's Ice Hockey Division I National Championship game with a 4-1 win on Thursday over No. 4 St. Cloud State from CONSOL Energy Center. Thursday's Frozen Four win marks the first time any Quinnipiac athletic program has advanced to an NCAA National Championship as the Bobcats will play cross-town foe Yale on Saturday. Quinnipiac continues to improve on their record-breaking season with their program-best 30th win as they improve to 30-7-5 in 2012-13.
Senior Jeremy Langlois (Tempe, Ariz.) made some history on Thursday, becoming the 19th player in Quinnipiac's Division I history (since 1998) to score 100 career points (56 goals, 44 assists) with a goal at 11:19 in the first period. Junior Jordan Samuels-Thomas (West Hartford, Conn.) was the offensive catalyst for the Bobcats with two points (one goal, one assist) while junior Zach Davies (Smithers, B.C.) also finished with two assists on the evening. Among the other goal scorers for the Bobcats were senior Ben Arnt (Oakdale, Minn.) and junior Kellen Jones (Montrose, B.C.).
Quinnipiac's Hobey Baker finalist senior goalie Eric Hartzell (White Bear Lake, Minn.) was every bit as dominate as he's been all season making 32 saves including several at key moments. The Bobcat defensive core and Hartzell did a masterful job defending St. Cloud State and their Hobey Baker candidate Drew LeBlanc. Quinnipiac held LeBlanc scoreless for just the 11th time this season in 42 games played as he came into Thursday with 50 points and more assists (37) than any player in the nation.
Coming in red hot on the power play at 37.5 percent (3-for-8) throughout the NCAA Tournament, Samuels-Thomas poked one home on the wraparound just seven seconds into the extra-man advantage at 1:49 in the first period. Samuels-Thomas won the faceoff down below the goal line to senior Russell Goodman (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) who one-touched a pass back to the Bobcats' leading goal scorer. The junior forward took the pass and beat Ryan Faragher five-hole for his 17th tally of the season.
Just over three minutes later, Samuels-Thomas once again initiated the Quinnipiac offense behind the net with a strong stick handle that led to another Bobcat goal at 5:07 in the first stanza. After winning a battle for the loose puck at the right post, Samuels-Thomas wrapped around once, changed direction and swung back around again. He beat his defender to the post and flicked a shot that was tipped right in front to Arnt in the slot for the goal.
The Quinnipiac first-period onslaught continued at 11:19 with a goal from Langlois. After Hartzell slid over right-to-left and gloved a prime scoring opportunity on the power play from Hobey Baker finalist LeBlanc, Langlois was released from the box and stole the puck at the point. He gave off to Davies who carried the puck into the Huskies' zone for a two-on-one opportunity. Davies put the puck on net but the rebound was left right in front for Langlois who knocked home the rebound.
St. Cloud State put an end to the Quinnipiac scoring streak with a goal at 6:25 in the second. Drew Benik was the beneficiary after a string of nice passes first from Cory Thorson to Kevin Garvel. The puck found Benik open at the far post who scored on a wide open net as Hartzell slipped to the ice and couldn't regain position.
The Huskies' rally was short-lived as the Jones tally increased the Bobcat lead back up to three. Kellen's brother Conner Jones (Montrose, B.C.) won the faceoff back to Davies who found defensive linemate junior Zach Tolkinen (Lino Lakes, Minn.) at the point. He passed down to Kellen who skated in on Faragher and beat the St. Cloud State goalie to make it 4-1 Quinnipiac at 14:31 in the second.
The All-ECAC Hockey National Championship will feature two schools from the ECAC Hockey for the first time since 1978 when Boston University and Boston College battled for the crown. The two schools have since departed for the Hockey East which was founded in 1984 but the ECAC Hockey, which hasn't had a school make the title game since 1990 (Colgate), will be well-represented on Saturday night.
Quinnipiac will now take on cross-town rival Yale on Saturday at 7 p.m. as the two will be playing for the fourth time this season, with all three prior meetings won by the Bobcats.