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Quinnipiac University celebrates its first national hockey championship

Senior defenseman Jayden Lee cheers back to the crowd as he enters the rink, joining his teammates as they celebrate Quinnipiac's first NCAA Hockey Championship.
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
Senior defenseman Jayden Lee cheers back to the crowd as he enters the rink, joining his teammates as they celebrate Quinnipiac's first NCAA men's 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.

Quinnipiac Celebrates First NCAA Hockey Championship
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
A near-capacity crowd jammed Quinnipiac's ice hockey arena as the school celebrated its first NCAA men’s hockey championship.

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.

First year forward Victor Czerneckianair rounds out the signature collection of 10 year old fan Maddox Marchitto.
Tyler Russell/Connecticut Public/Tyler Russell/Connecticut Public
Connecticut Public
First-year forward Victor Czerneckianair rounds out the signature collection of 10-year-old fan Maddox Marchitto.

Chris Polansky joined Connecticut Public in March 2023 as a general assignment and breaking news reporter based in Hartford. Previously, he’s worked at Utah Public Radio in Logan, Utah, as a general assignment reporter; Lehigh Valley Public Media in Bethlehem, Pa., as an anchor and producer for All Things Considered; and at Public Radio Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla., where he both reported and hosted Morning Edition.

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