Three Greater Trail minor hockey products will play for the div. 1 NCAA national hockey title on Saturday.
Trail’s Travis St. Denis, and Montrose natives Connor and Kellen Jones of the Quinnipiac Bobcats will play the Yale Bulldogs for the title after Quinnipiac routed St. Cloud State, 4-1, Thursday night.
Yale University, who ousted the University of Massachusettes-Lowell 3-2 in overtime earlier in the day, and Quinnipiac are just 10 miles apart in New Haven and Hamden, Conn., and both play in the ECAC.
Only one national final pitted teams closer: the 1978 final between Boston College and Boston University when both played in the ECAC.
The Bobcats got 33 saves from Hobey Baker finalist Eric Hartzell and a strong defensive performance in front of
him. But it was an opportunistic offense that set the wheels in motion for the semifinal as the Q-Cats jumped into a 3-0 first period lead.
Ben Arnt scored what proved to be the winner at 5:07 of the second one-timing feed from behind the net to make it 2-0.
Jordan Samuels-Thomas, a third-line winger with 17 goals, stuffed a wraparound past Huskies goalie Ryan Faragher on a power play at 1:49 to open the scoring. Langlois buried a rebound on a rush that followed the end of a St. Cloud State power play that made it 3-0 at 11:19 and the complexion of the game was set.
Joey Benik got St. Cloud State on the board at 6:25 of the second period when he finished into a wide-open net with Hartzell on his stomach in the crease.
But Kellen Jones made it 4-1 when he muscled the puck down the right wing and across the goal mouth to draw Faragher, then beat him with a quick move at 14:31 of the second period.
St. Cloud State outshot Quinnipiac, 34-28, but went 0 for 5 on the power play and dug a hole they were unable to recover from.
“It’s a proud moment for the Quinnipiac University hockey program,” said Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold after the game. “I was real proud of my guys tonight. I don’t think it was our best game of the year … but we battled and found a way to score some goals.
“We got that nice lead early. Hartzell was great again. I thought he was the best player on the ice … You
saw why Eric Hartzell is in the Hobey Baker Hat Trick right now.
“I’m real proud of my guys. It’s a great group of guys. We’ve got to get one more.”
Quinnipiac, the overall No. 1 seed, reached the Frozen Four after knocking off Canisius, then Union at the East
Regional. The final goes Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Consol Energy Centre in Pittsburgh, Pa.