Turn the Page: The Hamden Heavyweights Rid Last Seasons Championship Loss in Rematch with Harvard


Credit: Twitter/@QU_MIH

Matthew Mugno, Beat Reporter: Quinnipiac Men's Ice Hockey

The No. 2 Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team downed the No. 10 Harvard Crimson 4-1 in front of a sellout crowd at M&T Bank Arena on Saturday evening.


Coming into the match, it was legitimate to question, “can the Bobcats defeat a big contender?”


Their effort was convincing. The Bobcats took a 2-0 lead and virtually never looked back. Collin Graf showed that he can elevate his game onto the big stage with a break-in tally to get the sellout crowd to their feet. Ethan De Jong appeared on the stat sheet, a consistent big game player for head coach Rand Pecknold’s squad.  Just when the defensive system seemed to ride high, the Crimson on a late third period power-play and pulled goaltender forced the Bobcats to a gut-check task, and goaltender Yaniv Perets and the team defense showed up in a season-defining moment. 


The result. A 4-1 triumph. It was the most anticipated home matchup of the season for the western Connecticut community, and especially for the men in gold. Two of the goals are featured here below.


Last season the Bobcats lost for the second straight year in overtime of the ECAC Hockey Championship game in Lake Placid, NY. The Hamden community vividly remembered how Harvard won the Whitelaw Cup with a single goal almost a year ago. In the present, even more than a moral lift lay at stake with a win. 


A shot at the No. 1 national ranking had been inadvertently bequeathed when No. 1 and defending National Champions Denver lost to an unranked Alaska on Friday. In the USCHO ranking that is. For the PairWise ranking, Minnesota is still on top, and getting swept by St. Cloud State may not hinder their current No. 1 status as if they had lost to Alaska like Denver. 


With the Bobcats defeating their toughest conference foe and a top 10 team in the nation in the fashion they had, it’s realistic to envision that on Monday they will be the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. It is left to a vote, of course. 


The Bobcats had reinforcements. Pecknold and Sam Lipkin returned from the global efforts in Halifax Canada in their World Juniors Championship tour. 


They could not have had better timing to reunite Lipkin with Graf and Jacob Quillan. Lipkin talked about the shift back into ECAC play, “ I was a bit tired from the travel and the games but I felt good out there.” The Bronze medalist added,  “ Personally for me, this was the biggest game of the year, we needed it for Cleary and ECAC points.”


Pecknold competed against some of the world’s best but the focus quickly shifted from a hard-earned bronze medal to the task at hand in topping the thorn in the Bobcats side. “I don’t know when we came in the league but since then they’ve been top two or three it seems. They’ve got elite talent year in and year out and do a great job recruiting. They are always a handful.”


It is the second time this season the Bobcats defeated a top 10 nationally ranked team. The last occurrence was on Oct. 4 and 5 when QU took on North Dakota. Early in NCAA Division 1 season, the Fighting Hawks were ranked the No. 3 team in the country in both national rankings. 


Three months ago, Bobcats forward Ethan De Jong buried two on the road in North Dakota. On Friday against Dartmouth De Jong notched a pair. On Saturday, again the graduate leader stepped up and scored what would become the game-winning goal. 


The graduate forward jumped to answer in regards to the 2022 ECAC Championship loss, “ It felt good, it was motivation in the locker room for sure, Lombo (Michael Lombardi) was getting the boys fired up with that. It feels really good.”


On Monday morning the Bobcats could awaken as the No. 1 team in the nation. No matter if they earn voters recognition, the ghosts of the past have been lifted in a rocking M&T Bank Arena over an opponent who has tortured the program the previous two seasons.  


Unless winning the Whitelaw Cup is viewed as the ultimate soulful cleansing for QU’s hockey program…