Quinnipiac Gets Another Shot
by Timothy O'Donnell/CHN Writer
HAMDEN, Conn. Quinnipiac has been a team seemingly on the cusp for years. A variety of top-notch players have come through the program, and in every season since entering the ECAC in 2005-06, it has registered big wins early in the season, and gone on to win a first-round ECAC playoffs series.
But there are still things that have eluded the Bobcats — finishing in the top four, winning an ECAC title, and making the NCAA Tournament, something it hasn't done since 2002, when it qualified with the automatic bid as the MAAC champion.
The closest the Bobcats have come since then was 2007, when they held a 2-0 lead entering the third period of the ECAC Championship game against Clarkson.
But now Quinnipiac gets another chance. The Bobcats avoided the fate of losing to a bottom-seeded team, something that has happened regularly recently in the ECAC, by winning Sunday's Game 3 handily.
To get through the ECAC Tournament, the Bobcats will rely on their top line of Matthew Peca, Kellen Jones and Connor Jones. That line has been carrying the team for the last four games.
Prior to Kevin Bui’s goal at 9:29 of the first period against Brown on Sunday, Peca alone had either scored or assisted on 11 straight Quinnipiac goals.
“It’s pretty impressive of an 18-year-old to be this good and consistent,” Pecknold said after Saturday’s win. “He’s been good all year, he’s had some ups and downs but he’s really trying to figure out the consistency part of it.”
In the three games against Brown, that line combined to produce three goals and eight assists.
“Our whole line is clicking,” Peca said after Saturday’s win. “Even when (Loren) Barron and (Zack) Currie are on the ice with us, all five of us read off each other well.”
“We’re working hard for our chances and try and bury them we can,” Kellen Jones said.
The Bobcats finally had someone other than those three score on Sunday. Bui, Clay Harvey and Yuri Bouharevich all scored, along with Kellen Jones.
“You can’t win without secondary scoring,” Pecknold said. “Kevin Bui had a huge one, his third goal of the year. All three have been huge for us. Clay Harvey, that was a monster goal. Only his second of the season. He’s been playing real well.”
Harvey’s goal came on a rare two-on-zero rush.
“I have never seen a 2-on-0 for another team from their defensive zone but I saw it tonight,” Brown coach Brendan Whittet said.
Even though the Bobcats advanced past Brown, there is still room for improvement. Like playing more consistently.
“This was not our best hockey,” Pecknold said following Sunday’s victory. “Last night we played well, Friday night we were terrible and tonight we were OK.”
If there’s one spot that was consistent in the three games for the Bobcats it was on defense. After falling 4-1 in the first game of the series, the Bobcats limited Brown’s chances. This was especially true on Saturday, when the Bobcats outshot Brown 42-16.
“The whole season one of our strengths has been defense and clearing rebounds and helping me out and making my job a lot easier,” goalie Eric Hartzell said.
“I think it’s one of our strengths. If we continue to do that we’re going to go a long way.”
And when his defensemen have faltered, Hartzell was there in net.
“He’s one of the best goalies in the league,” Harvey said after Sunday’s win. “If he sees the puck he’s gonna stop it. And he eats the pucks well. It makes things easy on us as defenders too.”
Now Quinnipiac gets to keep searching for that title and/or NCAA bid, headed to Colgate for a quarterfinal series and a chance to get over that hump.