LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Three power-play goals in the first eight minutes of the second period propelled the Quinnipiac Bobcats to their first Whitelaw Cup in program history.
The 4-1 victory over Harvard on Saturday was sweet for Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold, but he dismissed the idea that it was a monkey-off-the-back moment for the Bobcats.
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Tim Clifton, Bo Pieper and K.J. Tiefenwerth sent the Bobcats to a 3-0 lead, and Michael Garteig stopped 24 shots.
“It’s huge,” said Quinnipiac senior captain Soren Jonzzon. “Our senior class is out of this world right now. The last four years we’ve had some good teams and to finally come away with one is unbelievable.”
The first period saw no goals, but controversy abounded as the clock ran out. Luke Esposito finished a check on Sam Anas, sending the Bobcats forward into the boards behind and to the left of Garteig.
Esposito appeared to push Anas toward the boards with a cross-check to his side, and the hit left Anas on the ice. He eventually stood up and skated to the bench, where he then collapsed again on the ice.
Esposito was originally given two minutes, but on review, the penalty was upped to a five-minute major for boarding. The period ended with zeroes in the goal column, but Quinnipiac had 4:51 of its major power play carry over into the second.
“We just had to reset and play our game,” Connor Clifton said about the team’s mindset regarding entering the second period on the power play but without Anas, who never returned to the game.
“The guys were mad about the hit,” said Pecknold. “But for us it was about staying focused.”
Two goals on the major power play gave the Bobcats their lead. Tim Clifton netted the first with a shot from the right circle and Pieper tipped a Landon Smith shot from a remarkably similar spot just 2:09 later.
Tiefenwerth capitalized on a rebound with a sharp-angle shot that beat Merrick Madsen over the shoulder on another Quinnipiac power play at the 7:20 mark of the second.
However, Harvard rookie Ryan Donato answered just 8 seconds later with an unassisted goal off a quick shot from the right circle that ricocheted off the post and in behind Garteig to bring the Crimson back within two.
Once again, Harvard took a late penalty, this time Kyle Criscuolo for a cross-check, so Quinnipiac had a power play for 1:14 to start the third.
Scott Davidson iced the win for the Bobcats with an empty-net goal with 1:09 left, putting Quinnipiac up 4-1 and essentially erasing any hope for the Crimson of an epic comeback.
“I thought it was a phenomenal effort,” said Pecknold. “That’s a really good hockey team in Harvard. They’ve got some great players and I think the big ice really favored them. We talked about mistakes, and mistakes being fine because one of your brothers is going to be there to bail you out.”
“I want to congratulate Quinnipiac — they’ve been a great team all year,” Crimson coach Ted Donato said. “On our end, I thought our guys battled all game. They worked hard, they executed. Five-on-five, I thought we controlled the play, but obviously, we’ve got to stay out of the box.”