Quinnipiac Responds, Advances in 2 OT
by Bryan Lipiner/CHN Reporter
HAMDEN, Conn. As if Saturday’s 10-goal, penalty-filled spectacle wasn’t enough for Quinnipiac and Cornell, a double-overtime thriller between the two teams for a ticket to Atlantic City would sure fit the bill.
And boy did it ever.
In what was the first double-overtime game of the season in the NCAA, Kevin Bui decided to play hero. After peppering Cornell throughout overtime, but being unable to get one past Andy Iles, Bui finally took advantage. He skated in on the near side wing, moved into the slot, and roofed a backhanded shot on a breakaway, giving Quinnipiac the 3-2 win and series victory over Cornell.
“It was a tough three games this weekend,” said Bui, a 25-year old senior from Edmonton who had just one previous goal on the season and four in his career. “I was just trying to get up ice, I had a lot of speed going wide. Loren (Barron) hit me with a nice pass. Next thing I know, everybody’s on top of me.”
With the victory, the Bobcats travel to Atlantic City, N.J., next weekend, where they take on Brown in the ECAC Tournament semifinals.
Earlier in the second OT, Cornell's John McCarron had hit the crossbar. But Cornell had few other opportunities since the middle of the third period, when it was trying to nurse a 2-1 lead.
With 64 seconds remaining in the third frame and Quinnipiac down, Iles could not cover the puck in a scrum in front. Another senior, Clay Harvey, punched the puck in on the doorstep, grabbing the equalizer to tie the contest at two, sending the game into overtime.
“I’m proud of our guys, battling back,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I thought Andy Iles was the best player on the ice. I give him a lot of credit. We’re ecstatic to survive this series. You gotta give Cornell a lot of credit, they played great tonight, they really came out with a lot of passion."
Said Bui, "I'm excited for sleep tonight. It was a tough three games. ... We were just belieivng. Coach said get the puck deep. They've been playing four d-men alll weekend, and we could see they were tired. Get the puck deep and go forecheck their 'D' and good things would come."
Iles, who was shellacked in Game 2 by letting in six scores, made 60 saves on 63 shots. Iles was also pulled in the second period of last night’s contest, only to re-enter for the third.
“I’m really proud of Andy Iles,” Cornell head coach Mike Schafer said. “One of the reasons I pulled him out of the net last night is he hurt himself in Princeton. That shows the athlete that he is; that he could play and perform when he’s not 100 percent.”
Quinnipiac and Cornell combined to hit 10 posts on the night, five coming from each squad. Three pipe shots came in overtime, two of which from the Bobcats.
Cornell was trying to rally off a disappointing regular season. It went 5-1-1 down the stretch, then swept last week's first-round series, and were on a high coming into Quinnipiac. Despite Quinnipiac being No. 1 in the Pairwise, Cornell took Game 1 and gave the Bobcats everything they could handle. Game 2, however, was a disaster for the Big Red, with Quinnipiac throwing up the 10 spot and Iles being removed for a never-used backup, who also got shelled.
"It was a very unique series," Pecknold said.
But coming back for Game 3, Cornell was every bit a problem for Quinnipiac as it had been in Game 1. The Big Red scored in the game's first minute. They broke Quinnipiac’s 7-game trend of scoring first, when Braden Birch slipped onto a breakaway 48 seconds into play. Birch glided past the Bobcat defense, dangled, and backhanded a shot top shelf for early one-goal advantage.
Quinnipiac responded at 9:44 in the second, when Zach Tolkinen grabbed twine with a drive from the point. Later, in the 11th minute, Brian Ferlin notched his third goal of the series off a turnover. Ferlin picked up the puck, skating in alone on Hartzell. The sophomore then sniped a shot past Hartzell, giving Cornell its second lead of the night.
Then came the heroics.
"That's the fastest I've ever seen him skate. He was motoring," Pecknold said of Bui. "It's great that he's in that good a shape in the second overtime. We definitely had some kids cramping up.
"We played three tough games in three days. We're tired and we need to get our bodies to recover for Friday. ... I'll give them tomorrow off, let them rest, and then get back at it."
With over 60 shots on net in the game, it would appear the better team ultimately won. But for Quinnipiac, it was as much a relief as anything, given all the naysayers who were waiting for it to get knocked off. Now the Bobcats have a chance to play for their first ECAC tournament championship, and still with the No. 1 seed for the NCAAs in their pocket.