Quinnipiac fans always circle one date on their calendars for a rematch of the 2013 national championship game between Quinnipiac and Yale. More than bragging rights were on the line, as Quinnipiac was vying against St. Lawrence for the fourth seed in the ECAC, guaranteeing home ice for the first round of the playoffs.
The Bobcats succeeded in their task, holding onto a 3-2 victory Friday night.
Quinnipiac capitalized on a power-play opportunity two minutes into the game, capturing a rebound from Sam Tucker as he fell through the high slot. Bo Pieper added another special-teams strike, scoring a power-play goal at 5:28 as he stuffed in another rebound behind Tucker.
Special teams came up throughout the game, as Quinnipiac ended the night going two-for-six on the power play. Yale was held off the score sheet during the man advantage in four tries.
Yale coach Keith Allain was frustrated with the result after his team jumped out in front 21 seconds into the second period to get on the board, and again at the very end of the period to cut the deficit to one.
“Oh yeah, I thought we played great in the second,” Allain said. “I mean, we would have liked to have scored, so no. Down by a goal and it’s a 0-0 third period, then it didn’t play out the way you hoped it would.”
Quinnipiac was bailed out in tougher stretches by freshman goaltender Andrew Shortridge. While he only faced 21 shots, many of the opportunities were odd-man rushes or open players after defensive breakdowns and turnovers.
“We had all those breakdowns in the second, breakaway after breakaway after breakaway, going in two-on-ones,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “He was brilliant, nice win for him. He’s progressed, he was able to adapt a bit. I think urgency, making some adjustments to his game.”
The Bobcats had a great deal of frustration and struggle in the second period after a hit on senior co-captain Derek Smith. At 8:55 of the second, Yale captain John Hayden came in high after a play, catching Smith in the head in the far side corner of his offensive zone.
“We had a good first period and then really, really struggled in the second period, especially after Derek Smith took that hit to the head and we lost him for the night, so that hurt,” Pecknold said.
Assistant captain Tim Clifton agreed that the hit was a blow to the team, but was ultimately a point for the team to rally around.
“It’s huge; Derek is a major component of this team. He’s a great leader, he’s a great hockey player, he’s a great role model,” Clifton said. “When you lose a guy like that, it kind of pisses you off a little bit. I guess the emotion in the room was just ‘Let’s go get this for Derek.'”
For an emotionally charged game, on a night where the stadium was filled with 3,600 fans, Clifton acknowledged that remaining focused was a difficult task for Quinnipiac in the second half of the game.
“You know, (it’s) difficult, but hockey is a physical game, stuff’s going to happen, but being disciplined comes down to selflessness,” Clifton said. “We had all 18 guys that were selfless tonight and I think that’s why we came out with two points.”
No. 9 Cornell 2, Rensselaer 0
Cornell had a strong showing at Lynah Rink behind a 31-save shutout by Mitch Gillam. Mitch Vanderlaan scored his team-leading 13th goal to give the senior class its first home win against RPI. The victory allowed breathing room for Cornell, adding two more points for the third-place team.
No. 3 Harvard 4, Clarkson 1
Harvard continued its nine-game winning streak, taking down the Golden Knights at home. Clarkson was unable to convert on any of its six power-play opportunities. Harvard goaltender Merrick Madsen walked away with a point in addition to the win, getting a secondary assist on Adam Fox’s goal in the third period.
Princeton 7, Brown 1
Fourteen different players posted points at home against Brown in the Ivy League match. Each goal came from the stick of a different Tiger, with even scoring across the periods. David Hallisey, Ryan Kuffner, and Max Véronneau each had a goal and assist, while Gavin Nieto and Tim Ernst both spent time in net for the loss.
No. 7 Union 4, at Colgate 3
Mike Vecchione’s contributions gave the Dutchmen a victory on the road at Colgate. Vecchione’s 25th goal of the year came at 3:21 of overtime without any helpers. The two points keep Vecchione in third place in the nation in scoring, with 25 goals and 31 assists.
No. 20 St. Lawrence 5, at Dartmouth 4,
A back-and-forth battle ended in a late even-strength goal by Michael Ederer to give the conference-leading Saints the victory. Corey Kalk scored a hat trick for the Big Green as the team posted a two-for-four power play and 32 shots on goal.