NCAA DI Men's Hockey

Quinnipiac Stuns Minnesota In OT For First National Championship

Quinnipiac Stuns Minnesota In OT For First National Championship

Quinnipiac erases 2-0 deficit, beats Minnesota 10 seconds into overtime for program's first national title.

Apr 9, 2023 by Chris Peters
Quinnipiac Stuns Minnesota In OT For First National Championship

In one of the most dramatic finishes in the history of the NCAA Men's Frozen Four, the Quinnipiac Bobcats won their first ever national championship by overcoming a 2-0 deficit to Minnesota, scoring the game-tying goal late in regulation and winning 10 seconds into overtime off of a set faceoff play.

Jacob Quillan, who scored two goals in the national semifinal, was the overtime hero after taking a feed from Sam Lipkin (ARI) and making one move around Gophers goalie Justen Close to find the empty net to give Quinnipiac its first ever national title in any sport. Only 10 seconds had elapsed off the game clock when Quillan's shot crossed the goal line.

Head coach Rand Pecknold told ESPN that the play Quinnipiac ran off of the opening faceoff was a designed play they’ve run many times in practice, crediting its design to assistant coach Joe Dumais.

Before the Bobcats could get there, however, they had to scrounge for the game-tying goal late in regulation. 

Quinnipiac dominated the third period, outshooting the Golden Gophers 14-2 in the final 20 minutes of regulation. Despite throwing everything at Minnesota, QU found itself just minutes away from defeat.

With 3:29 remaining in regulation and Quinnipiac on the power play, Pecknold called a timeout and pulled goaltender Yaniv Perets. Though they did not score on the power play, Collin Graf found the back of the net seconds later with a sneaky shot through Justen Close’s pads to tie it up with just 2:47 left on the clock.

For much of the game, it looked like Minnesota was poised to be crowned national champs for the first time in 20 years. 

The Golden Gophers started the scoring in the first period when Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Connor Kurth wheeled behind Quinnipiac's net before sending the puck to the front where John Mittelstadt was able to get his stick on the puck and sweep it into the wide-open net 5:35 into the game.

In the second period, the Gophers struck again when junior captain Brock Faber (MIN) made the heads-up play to send the puck hard off the end boards. The loose biscuit found Jaxon Nelson, who swiped a backhand shot up and over Quinnipiac goalie Yaniv Perets to make it 2-0. 

After registering just four shots on goal in the first period, Quinnipiac finally found their offensive legs midway through the second and made good on it with their first goal. Fifth-year senior captain Zach Metsa made a brilliant cross-crease feed to Cristophe Tellier, who redirected the puck just past Justen Close to cut the deficit in half.

Quinnipiac's third-period push and the gutsy call to pull Perets with so much time remaining on the clock had a big hand in giving the program its first national title. A lot of that is credit to Pecknold, who has been with the program since its inception. He helped elevate the Bobcats to Division I status and has been at the helm for 29 years. 

The Bobcats had been to national championship games in 2013 and 2016, coming up just short each time. Quinnipiac had one of the most experienced teams in the country this season with seven fifth-year seniors using the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes due to the pandemic.

Despite all of that experience on the roster, it was a freshman, Lipkin, feeding a sophomore, Quillan, to send essentially two senior classes out as champions.

The game was played in front of a sold-out crowd at Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 19,444 spectators was the second largest crowd to take in a game at the Men's Frozen Four. It was also only the second national championship game played between No. 1 and No. 2 overall seeds since the tournament moved to 16 teams.