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Matthew Peca’s Hat Trick Leads Quinnipiac to Frozen Four

QU Frozen 4

Matthew Peca and the Bobcats are heading to the Frozen Four for the first time ever. (AP Photo)

One day after making ESPN’s Sportscenter Top 10 Plays, Matthew Peca had a game worthy of the highlight show. Peca’s three goals in a span of three minutes and 12 seconds were more than enough to send Quinnipiac to its first Frozen Four in school history.

The Bobcats (29-7-5, 17-2-3 ECAC), who had to come from behind to beat Canisius Saturday night, handled Union (N.Y.) rather easily in Sunday’s NCAA Tournament second round at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Quinnipiac defeated the Dutchmen (22-13-5, 10-8-4 ECAC), 5-1.

Both teams were tentative early on, neither one wanting to allow the game’s first goal. At 9:46 of the first period Peca put Quinnipiac on the scoreboard first, 1-0.  Just one minute and 13 seconds later, the sophomore stole a pass and scored again to make the score 2-0. One minute and 59 seconds after that, at 12:58 of the first, Peca completed the hat trick on a power-play goal, and put the Bobcats up, 3-0.

Dirty play by the Dutchmen landed the team in even more trouble. Matt Wilkins was ejected from the game after receiving a five-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting from behind, at 6:27 of the second period. Later, in the third, Union was charged with another game misconduct and five-minute major for contact to the head.

Quinnipiac converted on their first man-advantage, at 7:22 of the second, when Jordan Samuels-Thomas’ power-play goal increased the lead to 4-0. However, the Bobcats’ five-minute power play was cut short by a hooking penalty on Travis St. Denis, three minutes into the man-advantage.

Kellen Jones tacked on another goal for the Bobcats, at 11:42 of the second, extending the lead to 5-0.

Union tried mounting a comeback in the third period, but would have needed a miracle to do so. A tripping penalty on Mike Dalhuisen at 2:16 of the third, provided some help for the Dutchmen. Daniel Ciampini notched Union’s only goal of the game during the power play, at 3:15 of the period.

Quinnipiac will have the next week-and-a-half off before traveling to Pittsburgh for the Frozen Four. The Bobcats will meet Minnesota’s St. Cloud State in the NCAA Tournament Semifinals on April 11. Stay with SportzEdge.com for coverage of the Bobcats, leading up to the Frozen Four.