The other half of the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Frozen Four in Pittsburgh has been finalized.
St. Cloud State and No. 1 Quinnipiac will both head to their first-ever national semifinal two weeks from now, following their respective Midwest and East regional final victories on Sunday.
St. Cloud ousted Miami (Ohio) by a 4-1 count in Toledo, while Quinnipiac routed conference rival Union (NY) by a 5-1 score in Providence.
The two will meet in two weeks time at the Consol Energy Center.
They will join Yale and UMass Lowell, which claimed the West and Northeast Regional finals on Saturday, respectively.
It will mark the first time since 1958 that four schools will be all seeking their first Division I hockey national title at the same time.
St. Cloud got two goals apiece on Sunday from Joey Benik and Cory Thorson to punch its ticket to Pittsburgh. The Huskies, who won a share of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season title , also got 20 saves from Ryan Faragher, with only Blake Coleman able to put a puck past him.
“It’s hard to put into words,” said St. Cloud State’s Ben Hanowski, a senior from Little Falls, Minn., to the St. Cloud Times. “It’s an amazing feeling to take this program where it’s never been before.
It was also a new league preview game of sorts, as Miami will move to the nascent National Collegiate Hockey Conference this fall along with SCSU. It was also the last ever game by a Central Collegiate Hockey Association school, which is disbanding after 42 years of play.
Miami won the final CCHA regular-season crown, its fourth in team history and just made its eighth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. St. Cloud had gone 1-9 in its previous eight NCAA appearances.
Quinnipiac completed its seasonal hat trick against Eastern College Athletic Conference opponent Union, thanks to a hat trick in just 3:12 by forward Matthew Peca in the first period to break up a scoreless tie.
Two backhanders in front by Peca, sandwiched around his wrist shot from the right circle, for the fastest hat trick in NCAA tournament history proved to be all the offense the Bobcats needed to defeat the Dutchmen for the third time this year.
“It’s a feat,” said Bobcats forward Connor Jones to the New Haven Register. “Getting to the regional championship and winning it is another notch in our belt. But we’re looking ahead to a national championship. We’re not happy here. We want to move on.”
Quinnipiac goaltender and Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist Eric Hartzell finished with 18 saves.
Troy Grosenick had 21 stops for the Dutchmen, who fell one game short of their second straight Frozen Four.
SCSU and Quinnipiac will engage each other in the late semifinal on April 11 in Pittsburgh, while UMass Lowell and Yale will face one another in the early semifinal starting at 4:30 p.m. ET. Both games will be televised live on ESPN 2.
The semifinal victors will then meet on April 13 to decide this year’s national champion.