“The Yale team that we’re going to face is completely different than the team we played earlier in the year,” forward Jordan Thomas-Samuels said. “They’re clicking on all cylinders at the right time, from goaltending to defense and offense. So I think our record against them doesn’t matter.”
Pecknold says his club was “lucky” to beat the Bulldogs 3-0 three weeks ago in the third-place game of the ECAC tournament. Both teams were coming off emotionally draining losses in the league semifinals and with nothing to play for, the hockey wasn’t compelling.
“I don’t think there was much life for either team,” Yale coach Keith Allain said.
How quickly things have changed for two schools that will provide the much-maligned ECAC with its first national title since Harvard won it all in 1989. For years the ECAC has served as hockey’s version of the Big East in college football. Sure, there have been good teams, but not great ones.
Not until now.
“We take hits every now and again,” Pecknold said. “That’s what people want to do, you know. But it’s tough to put us down this year. We’ve got two teams in the national championship game.”
And they’ve even got Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy in on the act. The governor called his state the “center of the college hockey universe” even if Yale and Quinnipiac don’t exactly work in the same orbit.
The Bobcats are built around goaltender Eric Hartzell — a Hobey Baker Award Finalist — and a defensive core of upper classmen that can put up a sometimes impenetrable wall. They pushed around St. Cloud State for long stretches in the semifinals, scoring three goals in the game’s first 12 minutes then clamping down on one of the most explosive teams in the country.