North Dakota leads Denver 2-0 after two on two Caggiula goals

North Dakota has limited Denver’s chances while Drake Caggiula has made the most of his, as the Fighting Hawks lead the Pioneers 2-0 after two periods.

Caggiula scored his 22nd and 23rd goals of the season on his first two shots of the game. The senior left wing intercepted a pass along the wall in the Denver zone and fired a rising wrist shot inside the right post and past the glove of Pioneers goalie Tanner Jaillet to make it 2-0 at 6:15.

Caggiula’s first goal came at 1:03 of the second period. Coltyn Sanderson entered the offensive zone on the left side and quickly fired a cross-ice pass to Brock Boeser as he headed toward the top of the right face-off circle. From the hash marks, Caggiula wristed Boeser’s feed high over Jaillet.

North Dakota has limited Denver to only 13 shots on goal, with five of them coming on three power plays. The Pioneers have failed to score against North Dakota through 22 power plays this season — and allowed a short-handed goal by Austin Poganski in a 4-0 loss on Dec. 5, 2015.

North Dakota is 25-0-2 this season when leading after two periods, and is looking to break a six-game losing streak in national semifinal appearances.

Notebook: Quinnipiac sees room for improvement on special teams

Boston College’s Ian McCoshen and a Quinnipiac player collide on Thursday (photo: Jim Rosvold).

TAMPA, Fla. — Quinnipiac killed all but one Boston College power play in Thursday’s Frozen Four semifinal.

The Bobcats were sent to the box six times and BC’s Ryan Fitzgerald was the only one to capitalize with the man advantage in the third period. With four BC penalties, Quinnipiac nabbed a power-play goal of its own by Landon Smith in the second stanza.

As a team, the Bobcats’ 45 power-play goals rank third in the country to Robert Morris’ 49 and Michigan’s 48.

“I thought the compete was great on the PK tonight,” said Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold. “The willingness to block shots, and our neutral zone was really good in kind of denying them entries.”

A tough critic, Pecknold said there’s still room for improvement on special teams.

“The only issue we had was we lost more faceoffs than we normally do on the PK and had some failed clears where guys just have got to have a little more poise. We’ve got to rip that puck down and kill some time off. Again, we found a way, and I think our PK is better than what we showed tonight. But it was good enough.”

BC’s Steve Santini’s perspective was a bit different.

“We’ve got to give a lot of credit to Quinnipiac,” Santini said. “They did great in the penalty kill and unfortunately ended our season. But that’s hockey, and we’re going to be gracious in victory and defeat.”

Bobcats come sprinting out of the gate

Quinnipiac and BC never played each other before, and it’s clear the former wanted to win that new race to victory. The Bobcats clawed their way to the net, dominating the first period with two goals in the first 10 minutes of regulation.

The first came at 2:31 by Kevin McKernan and the second tally was a few minutes later at 7:20 by Andrew Taverner.

Fifteen different players have scored in the postseason for Quinnipiac. When leading after the first period, Quinnipiac boasts a 20-1-2 record. Boston College trailed after the first period for just the seventh time this season, falling to 3-3-1 in those situations.

The Bobcats’ aggressiveness making good plays combined with some BC turnovers made for an exciting first period for them … and end result.

BC’s Teddy Doherty put it simply: “They just came out faster than us,” he said. “There’s no other way to explain it. Two goals in the first 10 minutes — unacceptable. And, it ultimately cost the game.”

Get your head in the game

Pecknold not only credited his players’ work ethic for getting to the national championship game, but he acknowledged the team’s sports psychologist for being an intricate part of their success this season.

“We have had a sports psychologist work with us, Dr. Wayne Halliwell,” said Pecknold. “He’s been great; I think he’s a big reason for our success. I want to kind of acknowledge what he’s done for our team this year. He met with our team earlier in the year, gave us some really good ideas about the reset button, being resilient and how to handle adversity.”

If Quinnipiac can keep those tactics up and keep its head in the game for one more night, the Bobcats have the chance to become the fourth consecutive team, and fifth in the last six years, to win the NCAA title for the first time in school history. That list includes Providence (2015), Union (2014), Yale (2013) and Minnesota-Duluth (2011).

Eagles fly together — back to Boston

Despite winning the national title the last time Jerry York and Co. were in Tampa for the Frozen Four in 2012, they couldn’t pull it off this time. The players may leave without hardware, but the Eagles are flying back to Boston with virtually no regrets.

“I thought our team was an excellent team, capable of winning the national championship, as the three other teams here in the field,” said York. “Going into it, there’s no guarantees, but I like the effort our kids had after the slow start. I thought we battled hard and wore the uniform very proudly. So, no regrets. We played hard. The only regret, really, is we’re not staying over to play in the championship game.”

Added captain Doherty, in tears: “I’m so proud to be a Boston College hockey player and represent the school. I can’t say enough how important that is to me and how special that is to me. So, no regrets, like coach said.”

Key play: Boston College frustration penalty leads to Quinnipiac winning goal

Quinnipiac’s Travis St. Denis and Landon Smith celebrate Smith’s power-play goal against Boston College (photo: Melissa Wade).

TAMPA, Fla. – It was just a shove, a little push, a play born of frustration.

To the left of the Boston College net and away from the play, Quinnipiac junior forward Tommy Schutt shoved BC junior defenseman Ian McCoshen and McCoshen shoved back.

The retaliation resulted in a cross-checking penalty that led to Quinnipiac’s game-winning goal.

“That goal was huge,” said Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold.

Trailing 2-0 at the start of the second, Boston College drew to within one goal when Alex Tuch scored 23 seconds into the period. Exactly four minutes later, however, McCoshen was called for cross-checking, and nine seconds after that, Quinnipiac sophomore forward Landon Smith scored his seventh power-play goal of the season to give the Bobcats a 3-1 lead. The goal held up to be the winner in the 3-2 game, and it came from BC’s first penalty of the game.

“We had a nice faceoff and the puck went down to Tim Clifton,” said Smith, “and he made a nice play to the net. The puck kind of went over [BC goalie Thatcher] Demko, and I was behind him and I took a couple of swipes at it and it went in.”

Quinnipiac’s power play is the fourth-best in the nation, owing in large part to players like Smith, whose efforts aren’t always fully reflected on the stats sheet, according to Pecknold.

“Landon’s had a great year,” said Pecknold. “Landon’s points are probably lower than what he does for us. He scores a lot of goals for us where he’s the net-front screen and doesn’t get the goal but gets the assist, but in my mind he’s the guy who scored the goals. He does a lot for us.”

And the kind of goal that Smith scored was exactly what the Bobcats thought they’d need to beat Boston College.

“Our power play will definitely be cute at times and make some ugly little plays and at other times, we’re just like, let’s just get it to the net,” said Pecknold.

“That’s something I thought we had to do with Demko tonight. He’s such an elite goaltender, one of the best in the country. We just had to keep putting pucks on net and find ways to score rebound goals, and that was an ugly, greasy goal at the net front, and that’s how you win hockey games.”

North Dakota-Denver scoreless after 1

North Dakota and Denver only mustered a combined eight shots on goal — four each — in a scoreless first period. That ties a Frozen Four record set on March 30, 1996, when Colorado College (5) and Michigan (3) combined for eight first-period goals in the national championship game.

The Pioneers didn’t get their first shot on Fighting Hawks goalie Cam Johnson until more than eight minutes had passed, during their first power play, resulting from a hooking call on North Dakota’s Coltyn Sanderson at 7:45.

Denver looked as if it might be close to going on a five-minute power play at 13:40 when North Dakota’s Rhett Gardner cross-checked Nolan Zajac along the end boards. A minor was assessed on Gardner.

Denver was 0-for-2 on the power play, while taking no penalties in the period.

Quinnipiac withstands late Boston College flurry 3-2, backstopped by Garteig’s 34 saves

TAMPA, Fla. Quinnipiac will make its second trip to the NCAA men’s ice hockey national championship game in four years after holding off a fierce extra-attacker onslaught by Boston College for a 3-2 win in the early national semifinal.

Boston College came within a goal late in the contest as Ryan Fitzgerald scored on the power play with 4:16 left in regulation. Fitzgerald buried a rebound past Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig for his 24th goal of the season.

But Landon Smith’s 12th goal of the season just nine seconds into Quinnipiac’s first power play ended up as the game-winning goal as Smith gave the Bobcats a 3-1 lead at 4:32 of the second period. Smith swatted a bouncing puck past Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko that had fluttered to the right side of the crease after a goalmouth attempt by Tim Clifton.


Momentum had seemed to shift at the start of the second period. Tucking a rebound behind Garteig, Alex Tuch got Boston College on the scoreboard just 23 seconds into the second period. Casey Fitzgerald kept the puck in play at the left point and fed Colin White in the slot. White’s shot deflected off Garteig’s pad onto Tuch’s stick.


Andrew Taverner’s goal at 7:20 of the first period gave Quinnipiac a 2-0 lead. Taverner snuck down the slot and steered in a pass fed from behind the goal line by Travis St. Denis for his sixth goal of the season.

Kevin McKernan got Quinnipiac on the board with his fourth goal of the season at 2:31 of the first period, unassisted, wristing a shot just under the left pad of Thatcher Demko after Scott Davidson fed the puck out from behind the BC net.

Boston College was 1-for-5 on the power play, while Quinnipiac was 1-for-3. Garteig made 34 saves, while Demko had 27.

Quinnipiac faces the winner of tonight’s North Dakota-Denver national semifinal on Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT.

We’ll have complete coverage of this game later at USCHO.com.

Former Vermont, NHL star St. Louis back in Tampa, under different circumstances

Martin St. Louis is surrounded by reporters during the first intermission of Thursday’s Quinnipiac-Boston College game (photo: Todd D. Milewski).

TAMPA, Fla. — In between the first and second periods of the first semifinal game, the focus shifted from this year’s Frozen Four to a former collegian with Frozen Four experience himself, one who was instrumental in bringing the tournament to Tampa in 2012.

Retired forward Martin St. Louis, who spent 13 years with the Tampa Bay Lightning before being traded to the New York Rangers in 2013-14, was mobbed by reporters in his first appearance in Amalie Arena since he left professional hockey at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Since leaving the NHL, St. Louis has shifted gears. Wednesday, he said, he talked to all four tournament teams. Thursday, he got in another round of golf.

“I’m just really happy to come and enjoy and watch some hockey,” said St. Louis, who played for Vermont from 1993 to 1997 and played in the 1996 Frozen Four. “It’s fun to be back in the building, under such different circumstances — no more stress, pressure or anything, just come in and enjoy. It’s nice.”

St. Louis hasn’t completely left the world of hockey behind him. He’s vocal about bringing another Frozen Four to Tampa. He stays in touch with many former teammates. He watches NHL games on television.

And he coaches — at a much different level. St. Louis is the coach for the Mid Fairfield Junior Rangers, and all three of his sons play hockey.

“The three boys — my 8-year-old, 11-year-old, [and] going to be 13 — I think I’m at the rink more now than I used to be,” said St. Louis. “I coach all of them and I travel quite a bit on weekends. I bought a new truck at the end of November and I think I’ve got 13,000 miles on it already.

“There’s nothing better than going to the rink with all three boys and all their hockey bags. Sometimes they have practice one right after the other. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold’s son, Tate, plays with St. Louis’ middle son, Lucas. St. Louis joked that sometimes Pecknold “comes on the bench and holds the door for me” at the rink.

St. Louis is so immersed in his post-NHL life that when he was asked how he’d been received, he said, “I think the parents are happy that I’m involved.”

Then the reporter who asked the original question clarified: How had St. Louis been received here, in Tampa, in Amalie Arena.

St. Louis laughed. Everyone laughed.

“Oh, sorry,” he said. “I’m really focused on my coaching career. The kids really like me.”

Quinnipiac’s Landon Smith answers first-minute goal by BC’s Tuch to give Bobcats 3-1 lead after two

TAMPA, Fla. – Boston College and Quinnipiac each scored in the second period of today’s national semifinal, giving the Bobcats a two-goal lead after two.

Alex Tuch tucked a rebound behind Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig to get Boston College on the scoreboard just 23 seconds into the second period. Casey Fitzgerald kept the puck in play at the left point and fed Colin White in the slot. White’s shot deflected off Garteig’s pad onto Tuch’s stick.

Landon Smith’s 12th goal of the season just nine seconds into Quinnipiac’s first power play gave the Bobcats back a two-goal lead at 4:32 of the second period. Smith swatted a bouncing puck past Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko that had fluttered to the right side of the crease after a goalmouth attempt by Tim Clifton. Smith, Scott Davidson and Travis St. Denis each have four postseason goals for Quinnipiac.

Boston College is 0-for-3 on the power play while Quinnipiac is 1-for-2 so far, while its third man advantage will carry 1:36 into the third period. BC has a 22-21 shot-on-goal edge through two, while the Bobcats lead in face-offs won, 23-18.

Line combinations for North Dakota, Denver

TAMPA, Fla. — Here are the line combinations for Thursday’s Frozen Four semifinal between North Dakota and Denver (8:30 p.m. EDT, ESPN2):

North Dakota (32-6-4)

9 Drake Caggiula-8 Nick Schmaltz-16 Brock Boeser
22 Rhett Gardner-27 Luke Johnson-14 Austin Poganski
29 Bryn Chyzyk-26 Coltyn Sanderson-25 Joel Janatuinen
19 Shane Gersich-10 Johnny Simonson-11 Trevor Olson

3 Tucker Poolman-6 Paul LaDue
20 Gage Ausmus-2 Troy Stecher
28 Hayden Shaw-4 Keaton Thompson

33 Cam Johnson
30 Matt Hrynkiw

Denver (25-9-6)

8 Trevor Moore-7 Dylan Gambrell-20 Danton Heinen
26 Evan Janssen-27 Quentin Shore-19 Troy Terry
18 Emil Romig-9 Gabe Levin-24 Colin Staub
39 Grant Arnold-23 Matt Marcinew-14 Jarid Lukosevicius

3 Tariq Hammond-11 Nolan Zajac
25 Blake Hillman-4 Will Butcher
28 Adam Plant-6 Matt VanVoorhis

36 Tanner Jaillet
31 Evan Cowley

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