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Quinnipiac erases 3-1 deficit, advances to NCAA Regional Final

Jordan Samuels-Thomas and the Bobcats advanced to the NCAA Regional Final. (Quinnipiac Athletics) Jordan Samuels-Thomas and the Bobcats advanced to the NCAA Regional Final. (Quinnipiac Athletics)

In a matter of seconds the entire game changed for the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team.

Early in the second period of Saturday night’s NCAA Tournament first round game, the Bobcats were leading, 1-0, when Canisius’ Stephen Farrell knotted the game, 1-1, at 4:24 of the period. Just 44 seconds later, at 5:08 of the second, the Golden Griffins took the lead, 2-1, when Patrick Sullivan found the back of the net. Quinnipiac would have to come from behind to beat Canisius, 4-3, at Providence’s Dunkin Donuts Center.

The Bobcats (28-7-5, 17-2-3 ECAC) got off to an easy start against the Canisius Golden Griffins (19-19-5, 12-13-2 AHA), who looked nervous early in their first-ever game in the Men’s NCAA Hockey Tournament. Quinnipiac controlled much of the first period, taking 13 shots to Canisius’ 7. Bobcat junior Connor Jones gave his team the lead with a slap shot goal from high in the slot, his twelfth of the season, at 8:43 of the first period. This brings us to Canisius’ two second period goals.

In the third, the Griffins padded their lead, 3-1, off a goal from Kyle Gibbons, 3:43 into the period. The game appeared to be over for the Bobcats, the tournament’s No. 1-seed overall.

Quinnpiac began inching its way back into the game when sophomore Matthew Peca scored at 8:02 of the third, to make it 3-2.

Penalties by Canisius helped the Bobcats gain further ground. A cross-check penalty by Canisius’ Ben Parker, at 9:30 of the third period, gave way to sophomore Jordan Samuels-Thomas’ power-play goal that tied the game, 3-3, 10:42 into the third.

Kevin Bui scored 3:46 later, at 14:28 of the third period, to put Quinnipiac ahead, 4-3. Bui, Saturday night’s hero, was Quinnipiac’s hero in Game 3 of the ECAC Quaterfinals against Cornell, when he scored the winning goal in the game’s second overtime.

A high sticking penalty on Kellen Jones, at 17:31 of the third, allowed the Griffins one last chance. Canisius pulled its goaltender with about 1:30 to go, but was unable to convert on their two-man advantage. Quinnipiac held on for their first-ever win in their second-ever game in the NCAA Hockey Tournament.

Sunday night at 6:30, the Bobcats will face the winner of Saturday night’s first round game between Union (N.Y.) and Boston College in the tournament’s second round at the Dunkin Donuts Center. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU, and can be heard on AM 1220 WQUN.