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Quinnipiac's grit enough to put away Michigan and set up Frozen Four title game with Gophers

A third-period outburst sends the Bobcats to their third national title game trip in the past decade, where they will seek their first title on Saturday.

2023 Frozen Four Semifinal - Quinnipiac vs Michigan
Quinnipiac's Jacob Quillan (16) fires a shot on Michigan goaltender Eric Portillo (1) during the Frozen Four semifinal game Thursday, April 6, 2023 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.
Jim Rosvold / Special to The Rink Live

TAMPA, Fla. — In playoff hockey, pretty often beats gritty. And Quinnipiac has thrived on gritty, defensive hockey all season long.

Sam Lipkin and Zach Metsa both had gritty, “throw the puck toward the crease and see what happens” plays in the third period of Thursday’s Frozen Four semifinal. Both ended with the puck in Michigan’s net and the Bobcats headed to the national championship game.

Quinipiac’s 5-2 win over Michigan was the contrast of styles that most predicted, with the Bobcats’ defense doing what it could to contain the Wolverines dynamic offense. On the other side of the ice, Michigan’s defensive shortcomings proved to be more than they could overcome.

Jacob Quillan had a pair of first period goals for Quinnipiac (33-4-3), which will face Minnesota for the NCAA title on Saturday evening. The Bobcats are in their third Frozen Four and will be playing for the crown for the third time, having lost to Yale in Pittsburgh in 2013, and to North Dakota in 2016, the last time the tournament was in Tampa. Goalie Yaniv Perets had 29 saves for Quinnipiac, which never trailed in the game.

"We certainly weren't perfect, but we were pretty good," said Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold. "We talked a lot about their high-end talent. Their 27 draft picks or whatever they have and how we need to defend in waves ... We weren't perfect but we were good enough to get the win."


Michigan, which finishes the season 26-12-3, got pretty goals – as it has all season – from Seamus Casey and Adam Fantilli, rallying to tie twice after trailing 1-0 and 2-1. Their best player was goalie Erik Portillo, who had to be, making 24 saves and thwarting three of the four breakaways he faced.

"Credit to Quinnipiac, they played a great game. We appreciate Tampa Bay and all their hospitality," said Michigan coach Brandon Naurato, who took over the team in August 2022, less than two months prior to the start of this season. "Tough game but extremely proud of our guys and everything they've done this year. Michigan will be a better program because of the type of people we had this year."

It was the second consecutive year that Michigan — which won the Big Ten tournament — has bowed out in the Frozen Four semifinals. They fell to Denver in overtime last year in Boston.

"They were hard on pucks and they were all over us on the forecheck, and they took advantage of opportunities," said Wolverines defenseman Steven Holtz. "I know they got a couple bounces but that's the game of hockey. It's a game of inches. Sometimes you're on the wrong side of those inches."

With the game knotted 2-2 in the third, Lipkin banked a shot from behind the net off Portillo’s skate and in to give the Bobcats their third (and final) lead of the game. Later, Metsa threw a shot at Portillo from the side boards and the puck eluded the goalie to double the Quinnipiac lead. Ethan de Jong added an empty-net goal with 1:45 to play to seal the win.

Quinnipiac 5, Michigan 2

Quinnipiac 2-0-3—5

Michigan 1-1-0—2


First period — 1. QU, Jacob Quillan 7 (Jayden Lee, Cristophe Tellier), 5:18. 2. MI, Seamus Casey 8 (unassisted), 6:49. 3. QU, Quillan 8 (Sam Lipkin, Collin Graf), 11:21. Penalties — Ethan Edwards, MI (holding), 3:05; Michael Lombardi, QU (slashing), 9:56.

Second period — 4. MI, Adam Fantilli 30 (Luke Hughes, Rutger McGroarty), 10:15. Penalties — T.J. Hughes, MI (holding), 1:29.

Third period — 5. QU, Lipkin 14 (Graf, Quillan), 1:24. 6. QU, Zach Metsa 9 (Christophe Fillion, Tellier), 13:00. 7. QU, Ethan de Jong 19 (unassisted), 18:15, (EN). Penalties — Fillion, QU (slashing), 5:52; L. Hughes, MI (hooking), 4:52.

Shots on goal — QU 9-9-12—30; MI 8-12-11—31. Goalies — Yanev Perets, QU (31 shots-29 saves); Erik Portillo, MI (30-25). Power plays — QU 0-of-3, MI 0-of-3. Referees — Jeremy Tufts, Steven Rouillard. Linesmen — Bill Kingdon, Kevin Briganti. Att. — 19,119.

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Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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