The 2022 Friendship Four is here. The annual men's hockey tournament will be played Friday, Nov. 25, and Saturday, Nov. 26, at SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This year's teams are No. 4 Quinnipiac, No. 14 UMass Lowell, No. 17 UMass and Dartmouth. All four games will air on NESN+.
Here's everything you need to know for the tournament, including schedule, history and where each team is at this season:
Friday, Nov. 25:
Quinnipiac was all over Dartmouth in Friday's opener with a 5-2 win, eventually pulling away in the final 40 minutes, where they outscored the Big Green 4-1. Victor Czerneckianair led the way for the Bobcats with a goal and an assist, including the eventual game-winner, while Yaniv Perets wasn't particularly busy, making 11 saves. Both of Dartmouth's goals came on the power play, and Cooper Black made 36 saves. QU will face the winner of Friday's second matchup in the championship game on Saturday.
It took over a period for someone to get on the board, but UMass struck first and never looked back en route to a 2-1 win over Lowell. Freshman forward Kenny Connors notched both goals for the Minutemen, including pivotal insurance early in the third on a rush with Taylor Makar. River Hawk freshman TJ Schweighardt's first collegiate goal brought it within one late, but it was no use for UML, who will face Dartmouth in tomorrow's consolation. Luke Pavicich made 32 saves for the Minutemen in the win, and Gustavs Davis Grigals stopped 25 shots in the loss. UMass will take on Quinnipiac in Saturday's championship.
Saturday, Nov. 26:
- Third place game: No. 14 UMass Lowell 4, Dartmouth3 (OT)
- Championship game: No. 4 Quinnipiac 2, No. 17 UMass 2 (QU wins shootout)
The Friendship Four finale delivered with a wild third period. Quinnipiac took a 2-1 lead, thanks to Skylar Brind'Amour in the power play with 4:14 to go, but 31 seconds later, UMass' Michael Cameron evened it up 2-2 to send it to overtime. The extra frame came and went before Christophe Tellier scored the lone goal in the shootout as Yaniv Perets (21 saves) shut the door in net to help the No. 4 Bobcats claim the Belpot.
Ethan De Jong opened the scoring for QU, and Colin Graf and Zach Metsa each had two assists. Taylor Makar added the other goal for the No. 17 Minutemen, and Luke Pavicich made 32 saves on the loss.
For an early consolation game, it didn't feel like it as Dartmouth and UMass Lowell went the distance with the No. 14 River Hawks winning, 4-3 in overtime. The Big Green jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first period, including tallies from leading scorers in Luke Haymes and Tanner Palocsik. From there, it was all UML as a pair of second period goals brought the game within one before Carl Berglund tied it 3-3 with 1:17 left in regulation. Stefan Owens notched the game-winner less than two minutes into overtime for the 4-3 final. Cooper Black made 36 saves for Dartmouth. Henry Welsch made 13 saves in the first period before Gustavs Davis Grigals stopped all five shots he faced in relief.
This will be the sixth edition of the Friendship Four. Due to the pandemic, this year's tournament is the first since Nov. 2019. That year, Northeastern defeated Colgate to win the Belpot Trophy.
Three of this year's participants – UMass, Quinnipiac and UMass Lowell – have each competed in the tournament once before. The Bobcats finished runner-up to Vermont in 2016, while the Minutemen tied St. Lawrence for third place that year. The River Hawks are the only returning champion, winning the inaugural tournament over Brown in a shootout in 2015.
Here are the all-time results:
|year||Winner||Runner-Up||Third place||Fourth place|
|2016||Vermont||Quinnipiac||UMass and||St. Lawrence|
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The Friendship Four is the first and only NCAA hockey tournament to occur outside of the U.S. It was developed by The Odyssey Trust as a way to build "on a sister cities agreement between Boston and Belfast" promoting education, social welfare and community integration in Northern Ireland.
Scouting this year's teams
The Bobcats (9-1-2, 6-0-0 ECAC) roll into Belfast on a seven-game winning streak, most recently sweeping Princeton with a pair of 4-1 wins. No. 4 QU surged up the rankings after an 1-0-1 weekend at then-No. 3 North Dakota early in the year and has hovered around the top-five since.
Averaging 3.7 goals per game and surrendering just 1.8, Quinnipiac has been as steady as they come this season. The power play (22.4 percent) and penalty kill (84.8) have been solid, too.
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Sophomore forward Collin Graf leads the way with six goals and seven assists for 13 points. Meanwhile, forwards Jacob Quillan (6g, 6a) and Ethan de Jong (5g, 7a) are right behind him with 12 points each.
In goal, sophomore Yaniv Perets had an up-and-down start to the year, but has recovered nicely, finding some of last season's historic form with a .924 save percentage, a 1.82 goals-against average (GAA) and three shutouts to go with his 9-1-2 record.
A matchup with the struggling Big Green could help Quinnipiac keep moving right along.
The River Hawks (8-5-0, 5-3-0 HEA) are fresh off a split with No. 6 UConn, winning 3-2 in overtime before dropping the rematch, 4-2. Norm Bazin's No. 14 UML group has won six of their last nine, including ranked wins over Boston University and Northeastern.
Lowell hasn't been the most high-flying team, but have found ways to win, scoring 2.6 goals per game and allowing 1.9. The power play has been mediocre at just 15.7 percent, but the penalty kill has been solid at 87.2.
Senior forward Carl Berglund paces the River Hawks with 11 points (6g, 5a). Brian Chambers has 2-7--9 on the year, while a three of skaters, including frosh Scott Truman (5g, 3a) are behind him with eight points each.
In net, junior Henry Welsch has been strong with a .935 save percentage, 1.76 GAA, a 5-3-0 record and two blank sheets. In a limited sample, graduate Gustavs Davis Grigals has also been solid with a .931, 1.97, a 3-2-0 record and one shutout.
Lowell will look to keep up its consistency with a matchup against a UMass team that has been in a free fall.
The No. 17 Minutemen (6-5-1, 2-5-0 HEA) ended a five-game slide with a 4-2 win at New Hampshire last Friday. Greg Carvel's squad has struggled since Hockey East play began, going 2-5, which includes sweeps at the hands of BU and Providence. Nevertheless this is still the same team that swept No. 1 Denver earlier this season.
UMass is scoring 3.4 goals per game and giving up 2.8. The power play has been scorching this season, working at a 41.9 percent clip, and the penalty kill has been all right at 79.5 percent.
Freshman forward Kenny Connors and senior Reed Lebster are each tied for the team lead in scoring with five goals and three assists for 13 points each. A pair of dangerous blue-liners are right there too in sophomores Ryan Ufko (3-9--12) and Scott Morrow (4-7--11).
The struggles have come in net, at least recently. Luke Pavicich holds a .923 save percentage, 2.57 GAA and a 5-3-1 record with one shutout on the year. Cole Brady has a .919, a 2.95 in nine appearances this season. However, since entering conference play, both goaltenders have save percentages below .900 and GAAs around 4.00.
A midseason holiday tournament across the pond could be just what this team needs to get right.
The Big Green (1-4-1, 1-3-1 ECAC) struggled out of the gate this season, and have dropped their last two games with losses at Union and RPI. Dartmouth opened the season with losses at Harvard and Army before a win at Yale.
The Big Green have had a tough go of it both offensively and defensively, scoring 2.5 goals per game, but allowing 3.5. The power play has been down as well at 15.8 percent, but the PK is working at 82.4 percent.
Freshman forward Luke Haymes is the team's leading scorer with five goals, while senior blue-liner Tanner Palocsik also has five points, all assists.
Between the pipes, freshman netminder Cooper Black has been solid, posting a .918 save percentage and a 2.28 GAA with one shutout in Dartmouth's lone win.
Like UMass, the Friendship Four could provide the Big Green with the perfect opportunity to get on track.