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HAMDEN, Conn. — It took 1:23 for No. 1 Quinnipiac to get the lead against Brown Bears, one it wouldn’t relinquish, in skating to a 4-1 win Friday night.
For Brown coach Brendan Whittet, getting into an early deficit was a sign of things to come.
“We unfortunately go down 15 seconds into the game shorthanded because our ‘D’ got whopped, and they scored,” Whittet said. “It’s hard to get down a minute and a half into the game. It’s just not a good way to start a game.”
For Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis, scoring his eighth power-play goal of the year was a key part of executing his team’s game plan.
“Our focus going into the game was to have a good start and honestly, we got that with the goal,” St. Denis said. “Going forward, I think that’s going to be a goal for our team is to obviously get the first goal in the game. We’re entering the postseason and we’re playing to get that first goal in those games.”
The Bobcats put up two more on the Bears before they could strike back.
Tim Clifton cashed in on his own rebound on a wide-open net from Tim Ernst seven minutes into the second. Quinnipiac scored again a minute and a half into the third period on a goal by Kevin McKernan pinching with Thomas Aldworth.
“We gotta play better hockey; we had been playing really good hockey, [but} again, tribute to them, they’re a good hockey team,” Whittet said. “They put us on our heels from the get-go. We gotta find a way to come up with a better effort, a much more complete effort. And we needed more out of a lot of our guys tonight.”
A Davey Middleton strike two and a half minutes into the third still wasn’t enough for the Bears, as the Bobcats sealed the game with a Luke Shiplo goal, scoring after bringing the puck in through the blue line, getting around Josh McArdle and firing a hard shot past Ernst.
The victory on the night gave the Bobcats their third Cleary Cup as ECAC regular-season champions in four years.
“We’re excited to get the win and excited to get the Cleary Cup,” QU coach Rand Pecknold said. “I’m just proud of the guys. They competed all year, they battled. Our league is as good as any in the country, if not the best, so it’s tough sledding at times, but we found a way to grind it down this year.”
Sam Anas, Quinnipiac’s leading goal scorer currently riding an 11-game point streak, sees the Cleary Cup as a milestone in the progress this team has made all year.
“It’s awesome [and] it’s great for the organization,” Anas said. “I think it’s going to mean a lot more if we win the Whitelaw and do some damage in the NCAA tournament. I think that’s obviously going to be our focus going forward and we’ve obviously got a big game against Yale tomorrow night.”
The two local rivals are as close in standings as they are in miles, but Quinnipiac is ready to face the nation’s best defense in their own building.
“[Yale’s] penalty kill is outstanding,” said Pecknold. “I watched tape from the last time we played earlier in the year and last year. They create a lot of pressure, they create a lot of back pressure and create a lot of panic in their opponents. I think for us, it’s about playing fast, playing at pace. I think we need to execute.”