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The date: April 9, 2016. The location: Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The teams: number one overall seed Quinnipiac Bobcats versus number three overall seed North Dakota. The stakes: 2016 Division I men’s national champion.

Quinnipiac entered the game as the ECAC regular season and tournament champion with a 32-3-7 record. North Dakota entered the game as an at-large bid after losing in the NCHC semifinals to UMD 4-2. However, the Fighting Hawks won the NCHC regular season crown and were heading into the title game with a 33-6-4 record. This was a heavyweight battle for the title and a packed house of 19,358 were there to take in every moment of it.

The championship game was scoreless for the first half of the opening period until freshman Shane Gersich put North Dakota on the board first. Several minutes later fellow freshman Brock Boeser scored a short-handed goal for the Fighting Hawks to make it 2-0. Quinnipiac would get on the board at the end of the period on a 5-on-3 power-play goal from Tim Clifton. There was no scoring in the second frame. North Dakota senior Drake Caggiula scored two goals in the third period to put the game out of reach for the Bobcats. Austin Poganski put the final stamp on the game and sealed it for the Fighting Hawks halfway through the third period. The final score was 5-1. This was North Dakota’s eighth national championship for the men’s team and first since 2000.

This weekend, these same two teams will meet on the ice for the first time since this championship tilt. Quinnipiac will host North Dakota on Friday and Saturday at the team’s home arena in Hamden, Connecticut. Not only will it be a rematch of the championship game from five years ago, it will also be a top ten battle. North Dakota travels east as the number 6 team in the nation with Quinnipiac as the number 7 team. As it stands, the Fighting Hawks own a 4-0 record against the Bobcats and it will be the first time North Dakota has played in Hamden. There are no longer any Quinnipiac Bobcats on the team from the 2016 title game but head coach Rand Pecknold surely remembers it well. He will look to avenge that loss this weekend with a win or two in yet another heavyweight battle between these two programs.

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The 2016 Three Rivers Classic was held in Pittsburgh during the final weekend of the year. The four college teams vying for the Confluence Cup were host Robert Morris, Quinnipiac, Boston College and Ferris State. This was the first time this combination of teams participated in the holiday tournament since it began four years prior. Robert Morris was defending its tournament title after defeating Massachusetts Lowell in 2015. The opening round in 2016 between Robert Morris and Ferris State was a nail biter as the Colonials won 1-0 on a goal from Daniel Leavens. Robert Morris freshman goalie Francis Marotte earned the shutout. In the other opening round game, 13th ranked Quinnipiac defeated Boston College 3-1.

The Bobcats jumped on the board first during the tournament’s championship game with a goal from Chase Priskie. The Colonials evened the score and then pulled away for good on a goal from Rob Mann with 46 seconds left in the second period. In the above photo, Daniel Mantenuto of Robert Morris handles the puck against Kevin McKernan in the third period.

Robert Morris went on to defeat Quinnipiac 5-2 to win the Confluence Cup; a trophy provided to the winner of the annual tournament. It was the Colonials third Confluence Cup in five years. After surrendering just two goals throughout both games, Francis Marotte earned the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. Earlier in the day, Boston College defeated Ferris State in overtime to win the consolation game.

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Robert Morris again hosted the Three Rivers Classic the following two seasons with Providence and Brown each winning one. With the recent news that Robert Morris has discontinued its men’s and women’s hockey programs, it doesn’t look promising that this tournament will come back without the host school. In fact, the tournament wasn’t held in 2019-20 because the organizers took a year off to reevaluate strategy. The Colonials still played a game at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena against Penn State on January 4, 2020. And the tournament didn’t have a chance of reappearing this past season because of reduced schedules due to COVID protocols. If a weekend college hockey tournament is to happen again in Pennsylvania, then the responsibility falls to Penn State to act as the host due to the Nittany Lions being the only remaining Division I program in the state. It’s worth noting Penn State was a fixture in the first four Three Rivers Classics. No matter what happens with the Robert Morris program or future tournaments in Pennsylvania, it appears this era of the Three Rivers Classic is designated for the history books.