There is no time that corrodes the nerves like overtime of a championship game in hockey. Fortunately, Quinnipiac didn't have to wait long.
The Bobcats men's hockey team won its first national championship in not just program history, but the entire athletics program's history on Saturday with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win over No. 1-ranked Minnesota. The team had been playing in its third national championship game, having lost in 2013 and 2016.
Quinnipiac, seeded No. 2 in this year's tournament, notched the win with a goal by Jacob Quillan only 10 seconds into the overtime period, off a brilliant assist by Sam Lipkin.
BOBCATS WIN!!!! BOBCATS ARE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!!!— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) April 9, 2023
📺 ESPN2#MFrozenFour x @QU_MIH pic.twitter.com/tN2CjZEJjP
It had taken some heroics just to get Quinnipiac to that overtime, as it had been down 2-1 with less than three minutes left in the third period. The Bobcats emptied their net and were rewarded with a game-tying goal by Collin Graf, assisted by Zach Metsa.
QUINNIPIAC TIES IT 2-2 WITH LESS THAN THREE MINUTES LEFT 😮🚨#MFrozenFour pic.twitter.com/w4WdongeE0— ESPN (@espn) April 9, 2023
Quinnipiac reached the championship game with a 5-0 win over Merrimack, a 4-1 win over Ohio State and a 5-2 win over No. 3 seed Michigan. They finish the season with a record of 35-4-3. Graf, a transfer from Union College, led the team in both goals (22) and assists (38).
Before Saturday, Quinnipiac had reached the NCAA tournament nine times In 29 seasons under head coach Rand Pecknold, with three Frozen Four appearances plus two conference tournament and nine conference regular season championships.
The title was a long time coming for Pecknold, who was visibly emotional as he was interviewed on the ESPN2 broadcast.
You deserve it, Coach 🥺— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) April 9, 2023
📺 ESPN2#MFrozenFour x @QU_MIH pic.twitter.com/S9hWT6IqTe
As emotional a win as it was for Quinnipiac, it was a heartbreaker for Minnesota. The Gophers remain one of the most decorated and well-backed programs in college hockey, but still haven't won a national title since 2003. This season was supposed to be the one to break that drought, with two NHL first-round picks in Logan Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud and the Big Ten Player of the Year in Matthew Knies.
Instead, the drought continues.