College Hockey:
Quinnipiac’s third-place win takes NCAA fate out of Yale’s hands

— Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold has often referred to the growing rivalry between Yale and Quinnipiac as an “event.”

There was no arguing that point during the regular season, as both games between ECAC Hockey’s second-closest rivals featured sold-out, loud crowds.

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Saturday’s ECAC tournament consolation game was a far cry from that, as a near-empty Boardwalk Hall watched the Bobcats blank the Bulldogs 3-0, putting a serious dent in Yale’s NCAA tournament hopes.

“We just didn’t have the atmosphere today,” Pecknold said. “Both teams were trying to get their compete level up. But it was what it was.”

Bryce Van Brabant, Cory Hibbeler and Kevin Bui scored for Quinnipiac, while Eric Hartzell made 30 saves for his fifth shutout of the season and school-record 10 of his career.

Jeff Malcolm made 24 saves for Yale, which needs some help to make the NCAA tournament. The selection show for the 16-team field will be broadcast at 9 p.m. EDT Sunday on ESPNU.

“Yesterday afternoon, we didn’t have a lot of passion or emotion,” Pecknold said. “I know the kids wanted it; it’s a great group of guys. It’s just one of those things that happens every now and then again to athletes. You prepare like you think you should prepare and it just doesn’t work.”

Quinnipiac locked up the top seed in the NCAA tournament before the weekend, and will play in either the Manchester or Providence regional, depending on the outcome of the league championship game between Union and Brown.

Saturday’s game was a rebound effort for Hartzell, who Pecknold said looked tentative at times in a 4-0 loss to No. 7 Brown in the opening game of the tournament.

“[Friday] I think had a hard time finding pucks in traffic and we talked about that and made adjustments,” Hartzell said.

The Hobey Baker Award finalist was on his game early, reaching out to deny Colin Dueck on the left post after the Yale defender jumped on a rebound at 7:22 in the first, and denying Kenny Agostino on the doorstep later in the period.

Van Brabant intercepted a Yale pass in the slot and wristed it past Malcolm to put Quinnipiac up 1-0 at 4:34 in the second.

The Bobcats took a 2-0 lead on Hibbeler’s goal at 2:32 in the third. The senior forward tracked down a rebound of Bui’s shot near the left circle and flung a shot past Malcolm, who was drawn too far out of the net to make a play on the puck.

Bui’s goal at 19:07 in the third sealed the win for the Bobcats.

Yale had two plays that led to goals waved off on the ice. Each call stood after further review, as Agostino’s shot was ruled not to have crossed the goal line at 13:34 in the first. And there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn Stu Wilson’s bid at 12:16 in the second period.

Quinnipiac sat forward Matthew Peca and Mike Dalhuisen due to injuries, although Pecknold said both would have played if it were the championship game.

Yale coach Keith Allain and the rest of the Bulldogs were unavailable for comment following the game.

“We’re going to take this as a learning lesson heading into the NCAAs,” Bui said. “We can’t a night for granted, because it’s one and done. A lot of us haven’t been to the second round or Atlantic City. So we’re going to have to learn fast and I think we’re ready.”

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