clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Quinnipiac Is Making A Statement, Whether Or Not You're Listening

Quinnipiac did exactly what everyone said they weren't supposed to. They won. Again. And because of the win they're returning to the National Championship for the second time in four years.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

You want your Rangers notes? They dominated the game and lost 4-1. That happens. In the end, it's a better result for the Rangers because it almost assures them the wild card spot that gives them a date with Florida over Pittsburgh. Please keep in mind, though, there's a difference between easy and easier. If the Rangers play their worst -- as they have quite a bit this year -- they could lose to Edmonton in a seven-game series. But make no mistake, they dominated Thursday night. Anyone blaming Henrik Lundqvist (even a certain member of the media) is a crab person. You're going to have to put up with more Quinnipiac through the weekend. Enjoy it. Your Managing Editor demands it.

As the third period heaved its final breath the puck slid across the ice the way it was supposed to. Perfectly placed, just beyond the reach of a sprawling Travis St. Denis, and right into the wheelhouse of Ian McCoshen who, quite literally according to his coach, got all of his wood on the puck; unleashing a heat seeking missile from the high slot that had a one-way ticket into the top corner.

The puck moved the way it was supposed to, flashing through the air as nothing more than a black blur; threatening Quinnipiac's one-goal lead with every inch it moved forward.

Only Michael Garteig had another idea. And as fast as McCoshen's stick flashed when he took the shot Garteig -- who picked the puck up late -- ripped his glove through the air even faster. He got enough of the puck to deflect it safely away from the net.

The puck deflected off his glove and helplessly into the corner, causing the yellow wall that was the Quinnipiac fans to start jumping up and down. And as Quinnipiac suffocated the final two seconds off the clock Garteig joined them, gently bouncing from his right to left skate in the crease as he patiently awaited his teammates to come celebrate with him.

That save was the greatest I've ever seen. Squeezing past the Henrik Lundqvist save he made in the dying seconds of Sweden's 2006 Olympic gold medal game when he stopped Olli Jokinen. It was take your breath away good, in a moment when I didn't have any breath left to give. To add to the lore, it came on the heels of an immaculate glove save he made less than a minute before.

And just like that Quinnipiac, the team of "who is that," "where is Quinnipiac even located," "are they actually good," "how do you say their name" or even "they're the worst number one seed in history," the team that "didn't deserve it" and "never beat anyone good" had just taken down the type of hockey royalty they were never supposed to beat if you believed the narratives spun by people who had never been to a game at The Bank or seen them play more than a few times. After the win they left BC's body right where they left RIT and UMass Lowell as they continue to march through this tournament.

The Bobcats play the type of gritty, big, tough to play against hockey that would have John Tortorella smiling ear to ear. Only they adjust the strategy in a vital way, making them a team that can do all this and has the skill to rely on their offense to win games if they need it.

Some look at Quinnipic's 1-3-1 lockdown zone as a trap. And it is, but in the actual sense of the word. This isn't the trap of the early 2000's when Lou Lamoriello and the Devils were clogging the lanes, throwing the puck 200 feet down the ice and forcing the other guys to do it again.

This is a trap that suffocates the neutral zone and then, like a viper, the 1-3-1 turns that change of possession into opportunity, pouncing on transition shifts and relying on a series of lethal finishers who can snipe a corner one shift, block a shot on another or even grind with you in the corner on the third. And everyone does that. Again, and again, and again, and again. It's like the ocean on the beach. The waves come and they don't stop.

There are nights they hold the puck so much you'd be surprised another team was even playing, spending so much time in the opposing zone the ice on their side has yet to dry midway through the period. There are nights they need to rely on their 89% penalty kill or their 33% power play (they're clicking above 33% in the tournament on the power play -- pure insanity) or maybe even both to win a game. Sometimes they grind out those one-goal wins and tap their helmets to Garteig after the final horn, thanking the Hockey Gods he brought his talent to Hamden. Other times he doesn't have to do a thing, and can watch his forwards light the lamp enough for him to relax.

They are chameleons. Give Rand Pecknold all the credit in the world for that. When Quinnipiac finds out how they can beat an opponent they morph themselves to do it. And none of them care what role they have to fill. St. Denis is one of the team's most lethal offensive forces (just two points behind Sam Anas for the team lead) with a release so quick you'd think he paused the game to line it up before letting it go. And yet is it any surprise he was the guy with his face in the ice, desperately sliding to try and block McCoshen's final shot to tie the game?

And here's the thing: Anas (the team leader with 50 points in 42 games) has been playing through a very painful upper body injury to help his team win. If he was in St. Denis' position, he would have been sliding across the ice too. So would Tim Clifton or Landon Smith -- who scored the game-winner in the second period on the power play. They don't care who gets the points. They don't care about anything but winning at any cost.

And they especially don't care that you might think they don't belong. Take a number if you still don't think they're good enough or don't deserve this. You can get in line behind Boston College, who are only the most recent of a long list of victims to fall to Quinnipiac.