Quinnipiac University celebrates its first national hockey championship
Students and fans gathered in a long, snaking line at the gates of M&T Bank Arena in Hamden on Monday night to celebrate Quinnipiac's first-ever men's hockey national championship.
Thousands ultimately attended the rally featuring players, coaches, the team band, cheerleaders and brief remarks from Gov. Ned Lamont. Some of the first fans in received free championship T-shirts and rally towels.
Fifth-year senior and team captain Zach Metsa said it has all felt like a blur, including walking into the team’s home arena with the trophy.
“To step out onto that ice and again get the support from the fans, have a basically sold-out building for us, it’s hard to describe,” he said.
For head coach Rand Pecknold, this moment was 29 years in the making. He started coaching the men's hockey team in 1994 and has seen the program transition from Division II to Division I.
“[This is] just such a special moment for Quinnipiac University to win a national championship,” Pecknold said. “[I’m] just really proud of my players, their effort, how committed they were the whole season. You know, in the end, they wanted it, and we found a way to get it done.”
Senior nursing student Ash Sherry said the win puts her school on the map.
“They think UConn’s Connecticut’s team. I would just keep an eye out for Quinnipiac, ’cause we might be on the way,” Sherry said.
The rally marked the second NCAA national championship celebration in Connecticut in three days after the UConn men's basketball team hosted a parade and rally at the XL Center in Hartford on Saturday.
Quinnipiac’s 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Minnesota in overtime capped a season in which the team remained undefeated at home and achieved a program record of 34 wins.