Quinnipiac, the tournament's top overall seed, survived an upset bid from Canisius in the opening round. It sparked a run from the Bobcats, who now stand one win away from a national championship with Yale waiting for them in the title game.
Down 3-1 with about 12 minutes left in the third period against Canisius, Quinnipiac staged a tremendous comeback with three goals in just over six minutes. The victory seemed to rejuvenate the Bobcats. They won their next two games by a combined 9-2 score.
Yale's road to the final has been paved with thrillers. Jesse Root scored nine seconds into overtime to upset No. 2 seed Minnesota in the first round. The Bulldogs also needed an extra period to eliminate No. 3 seed UMass Lowell in the semifinals. Andrew Miller was the hero.
It makes for an intriguing matchup in the title game. The top dog in Quinnipiac taking on the underdog that won't go away in Yale, which almost didn't even qualify for the tourney after back-to-back losses in the ECAC Tournament.
The teams have already faced off a trio of times this season. The Bobcats won all then by at least three goals, which normally wouldn't bode well for Yale's chances, but the Bulldogs have clearly rounded into form at exactly the right time.
While that doesn't mean Yale is going to pull off another upset, it should at least lead to a more competitive game than the first three.
Quinnipiac is the most well-rounded team in the nation. The offense is led by Jeremy Langlois and Matthew Peca, who have both topped 30 points for the season. There are 16 different players on the roster with at least 10 points, illustrating the team's depth.
The Bobcats also feature star goalie Eric Hartzell. The senior leader sports terrific numbers across the board, including a microscopic 1.53 goals against average and a save percentage of .934. He made 33 saves in the semifinal victory over St. Cloud State.
Yale will counter with the dynamic duo of Kenny Agostino and the aforementioned Miller. The star forwards each have 17 goals and have been the driving force behind the team's surprising run to the Frozen Four.
If the Bulldogs are going to keep pace with the top seed, though, they will need some of their secondary scorers to step up. Quinnipiac is a strong defensive team and will do everything in its power to make sure Agostino and Miller don't have much room to operate.
Antoine Laganiere and talented freshman Stu Wilson are among the players who must pick up the scoring slack. How Yale's under-the-radar players perform against skilled depth of the Bobcats will ultimately decide the title game's outcome.
Although Yale should be able to make the final more competitive than the previous meetings with their budding rival, Quinnipiac is the better overall team and should skate away with the championship.
Prediction: Quinnipiac 3, Yale 2
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