Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick Matthew Peca recorded a natural hat trick in the first period to give Quinnipiac a 3-0 lead over Union in the East Regional Finals. The winner advances to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh where it will face St. Cloud State.
Play was very physical in the first period, but scoreless until Peca's mastery began. After a Quinnipiac transition up ice, bodies were scrambling everywhere when Peca banged in a loose puck on the left side. Connor Jones and Kellen Jones picked up the assists on the goal at the 9:46 mark of the opening period.
Just over a minute later, Peca intercepted an errant pass in the neutral zone and carried the puck into the zone before firing a wrist shot past Union goaltender Troy Grosenick from the upper slot.
Peca finished off his natural hat trick at the 12:58 mark of the period when he made a nifty individual move on a QU power play. He cut in from the left side, cut in between Union defenders before backhanding a puck past Grosenick.
The sophomore from Pembroke, Ont. now has 15 goals on the season to go along with his 14 assists. He is an undersized forward that has great hands and deceptive speed.
Grosenick made four saves on seven shots. Hobey Baker Award finalist Eric Hartzell made five saves for the Bobcats.
Jeff Cox covers college hockey for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.