HAMDEN, Conn. — Three Quinnipiac goals, with two two minutes apart to start the second, lifted the Bobcats past No. 15 Cornell 5-2 to take Game 1 of the ECAC quarterfinals on Friday night.
“We didn’t do the things we did last week, which was pick guys up around our net and solid on the penalty kill and special teams,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “When you’re not doing those things, you’re not going to win hockey games against this hockey team.”
The Big Red (15-10-7, 8-8-6 ECAC) jettisoned to a quick start, fresh off the sweep of Union. They picked the puck from the Bobcats (26-2-7, 16-1-5 ECAC), nabbing a two-on-one with Chase Priskie being the lone Quinnipiac defenseman back. Eric Freschi skated in with the puck across the near-side blueline, sending off a pass to Jake Weidner. The junior wound up and sailed a high, hard shot past Michael Garteig’s blocker side.
“We were a little nervous,” said QU coach Rand Pecknold. “We made three poor mistakes right out of the gate, one that lead to a goal. Just things we haven’t been doing. Guys get nervous, excited. They’re still kids. We settled down after that. Especially after it was 1-1, from there our confidence just kicked in.”
Halfway through the second period, Cornell’s Jeff Kubiak scored his ninth on a clean shot from the top of the faceoff dot, cutting the Quinnipiac lead to 3-2.
“So it was 3-2 and there’s a call, they get popped, they score on the power play, but we didn’t block the shot, get in the lane,” Schafer said. “We misread what was going on, and that life, at 3-2, that’s a big goal for them to make it 4-2 going into the third.”
Later, Travis St. Denis shoveled in the puck that Mitch Gillam couldn’t smother. St. Denis came across as a screen, Gillam made the original save that bounced off of his belly and on to the ice in front of him. St. Denis took a few hacks at it before dragging it away and sliding it into the open half of the net.
The goal was reviewed for goaltender interference and Gillam was checked up on by the trainer during the review, but would stay between the pipes for the Big Red.
“I don’t know what the calls are,” said Schafer. “We see clearly on the Jumbotron that guys are in the crease, but I guess it’s OK. I don’t know what they were looking at. A guy puts his foot in the crease, sometimes they blow the whistle.”
Crashing the crease was key not only in St. Denis’ tally, but Thomas Aldworth’s and Sam Anas’ as well. Two of them were reviewed after being called good goals on the ice, and stayed on the board. The game was sealed with a Soren Jonzzon empty-net goal.
Teams also had a combined 20 penalty minutes, playing streaks of four-on-four. Both the Bobcats and Big Red went 1-for-3 on the power play.
“We have to play better,” Schafer said. “It’s not about the officials. We have to play better and do a good job of being above them, being stronger around the net, controlling the transition and bringing pucks physically to the net in the offensive zone. Those are things that we didn’t do. I don’t think it was that chippy of a game. Penalties were penalties.”
Schafer took his timeout with 4:10 left in the third period, with Quinnipiac’s Devon Toews in the penalty box for holding. Gilliam came to the bench to try and give the Big Red a two-man advantage with 1:13 left on the penalty.
Weidner was popped for cross-checking in the corner, bringing the teams back to four on four and quelling any opportunity for a Big Red resurgence.
“If it is [a hold], it’s a really really bad penalty for us,” said Schafer. “We had the power play, we were going to pull our goalie to go six-on-four, and we’ll find out if that’s a real selfish penalty that he took. It killed any opportunity that they’re going to be on the power play for a minute. That kinda killed any momentum of possible chance we had right there at the end of the game.”