And then there were two.
After getting past their opponents in the Frozen Four semi finals at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay on Thursday afternoon, two number one seeds will face off on Saturday night for the college hockey national title. The Quinnipiac Bobcats, the top seed of the entire field, will face the North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
Quinnipiac will look to win its first ever national title after knocking off Boston College, a team that was considered one of the favorites going into the tournament. The Bobcats, who lost in regulation just three times all season, jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and were able to hold onto a 3-2 victory.
North Dakota also took a 2-0 lead in its contest with Denver University in the nightcap, but the Pioneers stormed back with two straight goals before Nick Schmaltz, a Chicago Blackhawks prospect, gave the ‘Hawks a lead again with less than a minute left in the third period.
This will be the first time North Dakota is in the title game since 2005, but the Fighting Hawks are looking for their eighth title overall. Led by top prospect Drake Caggiula, who scored the first two North Dakota goals, North Dakota was also able to shut down Denver’s dominant first line and prevent them from finding the back of the net late in the game.
The Fighting Hawks have now won 11 out of their last 13 games and went 33-6-4 overall on the season. Led by Caggiula and goaltender Cam Johnson, North Dakota has remained one of the favorites to make it to the final game all season.
For the Bobcats, this will be the second time in the past four years that Quinnipiac will have a chance to prove itself. Despite being the top seed in the field of 16, the Bobcats have been overlooked and been considered an underdog more times than not.
Quinnipiac got off to a fast start in the first period, which set the pace for the rest of the tilt. Both goals in the opening frame came on hustle plays from the Bobcats, and Boston College was not able to recover.
Boston College fired 14 shots on net in the third period, and were able to crawl back and make it a contest, but it was the torrid opening period from the Bobcats that prevented the Eagles from coming back. The Bobcats were the third leading team in the country in scoring this season, and have found success in the post season despite top scorer Sam Anas being injured at the start of it. Anas’ 132 career points lead all players in the entire tournament.
These two teams have matched up three times ever, with North Dakota winning all three contests. North Dakota knocked Quinnipiac out of last year’s tournament in the West Regional as the only ever playoff matchup between the two.
These two teams have been at the top of the rankings all season long, and it feels fitting that they would face each other to determine the top team in the country. Game time is Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. and can be watched live on ESPN2 or TSN4.