PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The No. 1 Quinnipiac men's ice hockey team scored three unanswered goals in the third period to erase a two-goal deficit and defeat Canisius, 4-3, to advance to the NCAA Tournament East Regional Finals. The Bobcats improve to 28-7-5 for the year, breaking the program record for wins in a season. The win is also the first NCAA Tournament victory for a Quinnipiac team at the Division I level.
Quinnipiac senior Kevin Bui (Edmonton, Alberta) scored the game-winner, with six minutes to play in regulation, to cap the Bobcats' wild, come-from-behind win. Connor Jones (Montrose, British Columbia) had a goal and an assist for the Bobcats while Matthew Peca (Petawawa, Ontario) and Jordan Samuels-Thomas (East Hartford, Conn.) also scored.
Jones put Quinnipiac out in front with his 12th goal of the season less than nine minutes into the first period. Kellen Jones (Montrose, British Columbia), Connor and Peca were cycling the puck through Canisius' defensive zone. Connor held the puck along the boards to the right of the Canisius goal before giving it to Kellen and then skated above the face-off circle. Kellen then gave the puck back to him at the point where he fired it through traffic and found daylight over Canisius goalie Tony Capobianco's left shoulder.
Canisius took the lead with a pair of goals just 44-seconds apart less than five minutes into the second frame. Stephen Farrell tied the game with a wrister from the point that found space between Hartzell's pads and beat Quinnipiac goalie, five-hole. Less than a minute later, Duncan McKellar's shot from the point was re-directed by Patrick Sullivan in front of the Quinnipiac goalie before it slid around Hartzell to give the Griffs a one-goal lead, 2-1, with most of the second period to play.
Canisius' Kyle Gibbons scored his 21st goal of the year when he cleaned up a rebound off a pass by Patrick Sullivan in front of the Bobcats' goal. With the puck just above the crease, Gibbons dove at the puck and popped it over the head of Hartzell to give the Griffs a two-goal lead, 3-1, with just over 16 minutes to play in the game.
With 12 minutes to play in the game, Peca scored his 12th goal of the season to pull Quinnipiac within a goal, 3-2. Peca dug the puck out of the corner to the right of Canisius' goal and tipped it over to Connor Jones. Jones then skated to the slot and dished the puck back to Peca who walked across the crease and fired a shot past Capobianco. Peca's goal would be Quinnipiac's first of three goals scored in a frenzied six minutes-and-28-seconds.
With 10:30 to play, Quinnipiac went on the power play for just the second time in the game on a cross-checking penalty called on Canisius. With 9:18 to play, Jordan Samuels-Thomas (West Hartford, Conn.) scored his 15th goal of the season to tie the game. The Bobcats worked the puck along the perimeter, with Zach Davies (Smithers, British Columbia) feeding Mike Dalhuisen (Nymegen, Holland) at the opposite point. Dalhuisen then fed Samuels-Thomas who spun and fired through a crowd parked in front of Capobianco. The puck found room over Capobianco's left shoulder to give Quinnipiac the equalizer with less than half a period to play.
With 5:32 to play, it was Bui playing the hero again as he picked up a rebound off a Bryce Van Brabant (Morinville, Ontario) shot and one-timed the puck past Capobianco to give Quinnipiac a 4-3 lead. Bui, a fifth-year senior, entered the season with three goals in 36 career games. In the last month, Bui scored the game-winning goal in double overtime to send Quinnipiac to the ECAC Hockey Semifinals and then scored in a 3-0 win against Yale in the consolation game of the tournament.
Quinnipiac will face the winner of the other East Regional game between Union and Boston College. The East Regional Finals are set for a 6:30 p.m. start on Sunday, Mar. 31 live on ESPNU from the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. The winner of that game will advance to the NCAA Frozen Four in Pittsburgh, Pa. on Apr. 11 with the NCAA National Championship Game slated for Apr. 13.