Frozen Four Semifinal Notebook
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PITTSBURGH Both Yale's Andrew Miller and Quinnipiac's Jeremy Langlois scored important goals in their teams' national semifinal wins on Thursday. They also surpassed career milestones after their performances.
Miller's assist on Mitch Witek's first-period goal tied him with Bob Brooke as the program's all-time assists leader. The helper was the 113th of his career. He enters Saturday's national championship game just short of becoming the all-time leader in assists.
Langlois' first-period goal against St. Cloud State was the 100th point of his career.
"It was definitely good to get that monkey on my back," Langlois said. "It couldn't have happened at a better time for me and in such a pivotal game. But I think it's more the team aspect that I was able to score in such a pivotal game."
Miller and Langlois look to add to their totals on Saturday night when they lead their teams into the national championship game.
Been a while
Before Thursday’s national semifinal showdown with UMass-Lowell, Yale’s last game played in Pittsburgh was a pair of games against Queen’s College (Canada) in January 1925. This year’s Frozen Four also marks the first time since 1996 (Denver’s McNichols Arena) that the Bulldogs played in an NHL arena.
One situation where Yale was more than comfortable, however? Playing in overtime. After defeating UML in Thursday’s extra-time session, the Bulldogs improve to 6-0-3 this season in games decided by an overtime period.
Before this season, the state of Connecticut had only seen one school make an appearance in the national semifinals (Yale, 1952). Now, with Yale and Quinnipiac earning victories on Thursday, a pair of Connecticut schools will play for the national championship on Saturday night. Prior to the Frozen Four this week, Connecticut governor Dan Malloy tweeted that the two ECAC schools “established #CT as the center of college hockey universe.”
On Saturday at the CONSOL Energy Center, they’ll be just that.
Just the Start for Lowell
This is far from the end for Lowell.
The River Hawks graduate just three seniors this spring, and will return, barring any pro signees, 24 members of a team that not only advanced to the Frozen Four, but won both the Hockey East regular-season and tournament championships.
“I think these guys have a great future,” said Riley Wetmore, one of the few members who won’t return. They've got great leadership in the locker room for the next couple of years. For me, it's just disappointing that, yeah, I just can't put it into words. It's just tough right now.”
Of Lowell’s 123 goals scored, they’re slated to return 86 percent (106) of them. On top of that, freshman sensation Connor Hellebuyck, with a year under his belt, is downright frightening to the nation's other 58 teams.
Battle of Connecticut
The national championship game represents the first between teams from the same state since 1978 when Boston University defeated Boston College, 5-3. The contest was also the last time two teams within such close proximity met for a title.
BU and BC are just about 4 miles from each other. Quinnipiac, in Hamden, Conn., is just about 7 miles from Yale in New Haven.
The meetings between the teams within the ECAC have become especially important to both fanbases. In the last two years, QU has dominated the games, though, with a 4-0-1 record. Despite the rivalry, both teams are just focused on winning the game.
"Those games are irrelevant now," QU captain Zack Currie said. "We both know what the other team's going to bring. The stage and what's at stake is going to be way bigger than any games we've played so far. It's completely different.
A New Chapter for St. Cloud
Prior to 2010, St. Cloud State had gone 0-8-0 in the NCAA tournament. After defeating Northern Michigan in 2010, SCSU coach Bob Motzko expected things to change. It took the Huskies three seasons to get back to the tournament, but the success this season has changed the program's reputation.
The wins over Notre Dame and Miami in Toledo, Ohio, two weekends ago didn't erase the frustration of previous years. They did, however, solidify the Huskies as a first-tier program in college hockey. Despite the loss to Quinnipiac on Thursday, SCSU was clearly among the best teams in the country this season.
"I think we have an awful lot to be proud of," SCSU senior and Hobey Baker finalist Drew LeBlanc said. "Hopefully, we put St. Cloud State hockey on the map and laid the foundation and groundwork now for things to come."
A Rough Start
Quinnipiac's three, quick goals to start Thursday semifinal put St. Cloud State in a tough spot the rest of the way. SCSU coach Bob Motzko admitted after the game that his team would do anything to erase the frustration of the first 10 minutes of the games.
Both coaches knew the early part of the first period would be difficult given the overtime in the UMass-Lowell Yale game. However, the sides appear to have dealt with the adjustments differently.
"You don't expect to come out flat-footed," LeBlanc said. " I don't know if it was the other game going into overtime and delaying us a bit, but give (Quinnipiac) credit. They handled it better than us.
Pecknold prepared his game for the eventual delay. While the Bobcats didn't change their preparation, the experienced team clearly responded better than its opponent. Pecknold said he and his staff warned their team throughout the week that they may have to wait to start the game.
"I actually thought it was great when the first game went into overtime," Pecknold said. "We had prepared for it. We talked about it during the week."
College Hockey News writers Joe Meloni, Scott McLaughlin, A.J. Curry, Mike McMahon and Adam Wodon contributed to this report.