Hobey Baker finalists Hartzell, LeBlanc aren't only keys to Quinnipiac-St. Cloud State semifinal
TribLIVE Sports Videos
To reduce the meeting of St. Cloud State and Quinnipiac to the simplest terms, their NCAA Frozen Four semifinal pits a pair of Hobey Baker Award finalists against one another.
To make it more dramatic, it matches the nation's assists leader, St. Cloud State's Drew LeBlanc, against the top goaltender, Quinnipiac's Eric Hartzell.
To listen to both sides, the players deserve the praise. But to say they are solely responsible for getting their teams to a first Frozen Four is doing them a disservice.
“They obviously have a good team there,” LeBlanc said. “They play well defensively. Goaltending has been good, and they have a pretty solid group of forwards.
“So I don't know if it's as much of a matchup, so to say. I just think it's two good hockey teams on a big stage, playing a good hockey game. Hopefully that's what the fans get to see.”
Where LeBlanc has 37 assists and 50 points, he's one of six Huskies with 30 or more points and one of four with 20-plus assists.
“It's not just him,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Recknold said. “It's a deep team that finds a way to score, finds a way to win, somewhat the same way we've done this year. For us, we need to compete and do what we do well and really try to shut down their transition game.”
Quinnipiac ascended to the No. 1 ranking, won the Cleary Cup as ECAC regular-season champions and an NCAA Tournament game for the first time. The Bobcats are riding a 21-game winning streak.
Hartzell has been in goal for all 29 victories, recording a 1.55 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. The Bobcats boast the nation's No. 1 defense (1.63 goals a game) but scored nine goals in two NCAA tourney games.
“Eric Hartzell has to be given tons of credit. His numbers are just gaudy,” St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said. “He is a big, strong, athletic-looking kid. I think their coach last week said he's the best player in the country, and they just have tremendous confidence as a hockey team — No. 1 or 2 in the country in defense led by a goaltender like that.
“So, you know, they're a program or a team this year that's had confidence, it sounds like all year long. They came back with all those veterans and expected to be there and wanted to be there.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Blake prefers secondary job
- Pirates storm back with late rally to defeat Diamondbacks, 9-4
- Pirates notebook: Cole scratched from rehab start at Indianapolis
- Locke’s difficulties continue thanks to old friends
- Steelers notebook: Team extends Suisham’s contract through 2018
- Rostraver police identify suspect in home invasion
- Steelers rookie says Sam, his former roommate, has changed
- Eastern Derry VFD closes
- Police: Body found beneath Tarentum Bridge is jumper
- Connellsville loses pillar of Catholic community
- Police target 17 in Mon Valley drug investigation