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.