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Frozen Four: Quinnipiac reaches second championship game

TAMPA — For most of its NCAA semifinal with Quinnipiac, Boston College trailed by two goals following a fast start by the Bobcats in the first period. Quinnipiac took advantage of a power-play goal in the second to put distance between itself and the Eagles once again, a lead that Boston College seemed far from overcoming.

That is until it was almost too late.

Boston College scored a power-play goal at the 15:44 mark, bringing the Eagles just one shot from tying the score and keeping its chances for a sixth Frozen Four championship alive. But while the Eagles peppered the goal with shots in the final minutes, Quinnipiac goaltender Michael Garteig made several crucial saves, and the Bobcats withstood the late attack to win 3-2.

Quinnipiac (32-3-7) will play North Dakota (33-6-4) on Saturday for a chance to win the program's first Frozen Four championship.

"They were hard, they were gritty. They had good goaltending," Boston College coach Jerry York said. "With the goaltender pulled, I thought we had two really exceptional chances to score that the kid made unbelievable saves on. … It ended our season for us."

In the first period, Quinnipiac proved exactly why it is the No. 1 team in the country. Midway through, the Bobcats were outshooting Boston College 7-1, and they wasted no time jumping ahead when Kevin McKernan scored an unassisted goal a little more than 21/2 minutes into the game.

Less than five minutes later, Andrew Taverner scored a second Quinnipiac goal on an assist from Travis St. Denis.

Meanwhile, Boston College (28-8-5), which struggled to clear the puck in the first period, had plenty of its own chances in the second and third, but it struggled to cash in on them. The Eagles had five power plays, but they came up empty on their first four.

Quinnipiac, which came into the Frozen Four with the third most power-play goals in the nation (45), is known for its power-play offense.

But against Boston College, it was the penalty kill that carried Quinnipiac through.

"It's kind of, one go, we all go. We can't have three guys going and one guy not," Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. "I thought the rotations were good, I thought the compete was great on the PK tonight, the willingness to block shots."

Boston College got on the board just moments into the second period on a goal from Alex Tuch, but the Bobcats were quick to take back its two-goal lead, and Landon Smith scored their ninth power-play goal of the tournament less than four minutes later.

And really, that's just the kind of thing the Bobcats have been doing all year. No matter the move, Smith said, they've always had a response.

"I think we have a really resilient group of guys. It seems like no matter what the score is, no matter what the situation is in the game, nothing changes in the locker room," Smith said. "Everyone expects to win. … Nothing changes."

Contact Kelly Parsons at kaparsons@tampabay.com. Follow @_kellyparsons.

Frozen Four: Quinnipiac reaches second championship game 04/07/16 [Last modified: Thursday, April 7, 2016 11:46pm]
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