Emotions Run the Gamut
by Bryan Lipiner/CHN Reporter
HAMDEN, Conn. "It was a unique series."
Those were Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold’s words in responding to how his team will shake off the emotional whirlwind that was the ECAC Tournament quarterfinals between the Bobcats and the Big Red.
Game 1 featured blown scoring chances and Cornell’s Andy Iles standing on his head. The second game was a 10-goal blowout with 184 total penalty minutes. Game 3 took two overtimes, went deep into the Hamden night, and had the game winner come off the stick of a second-year senior.
Most certainly, the series was one of a kind.
The first game of the set, however, left Quinnipiac with its backs against the wall against the No. 9 seeded Big Red, vying for a spot in the NCAA Tournament after a late-season push.
Cornell edged the Bobcats 3-2 in the opener; despite a plethora of Quinnipiac chances. Jeremy Langlois, who earlier in the season held the NCAA active career lead for goals, botched a pair of breakaways.
“We can kind of play with that carefree mentality, and it’s happened maybe once in my coaching career. (Quinnipiac) carries an awful lot of burden and pressure,” Cornell head coach Mike Schafer told USCHO.
Langlois would have an additional chance in the slot in the final minute of play, only to be denied by Iles. Iles made 33 saves on the night, including 15 in the third period.
“It’s a little easier playing with a one-game lead," Iles told USCHO. "As the game went on, I felt like I could play with a bit more poise and survey the options and play to percentages a bit more.”
Quinnipiac’s penalty kill, first in the nation and a key to its success this year, was lackluster in the performance. The Bobcats gave up two power-play goals, both of which came from sophomore Brian Ferlin.
The choice being to win or go home, the Quinnipiac struck back with a 10-goal night in Game 2; the largest margin of victory in an ECAC contest. Powered by Travis St. Denis and Kellen Jones, who each grabbed the twine twice, the Bobcats rolled over Cornell in a 10-0 blowout. Iles let through six goals on 32 shots, while Connor Jones, Ben Arnt, and Dan Federico had four-point nights.
“It’s a hungry group, and our backs were against the wall,” Pecknold said. “We want to advance. Everything is one-and-done from here on out.”
Quinnipiac scored seven goals in the second period; an ECAC Tournament record.
The middle game of the series wasn’t without game misconducts, brawls, and an exorbitant amount of penalty minutes. Three players on each team were slapped with game misconduct penalties. Bobcat Russell Goodman received two game misconducts, as well as 30 penalty minutes. At the other end of the ice, Cornell’s John McCarron served 27 minutes in the box.
“When a score gets that high, tempers flare,” Quinnipiac captain Zack Currie said. “We’re just trying to keep everybody in the lineup. It wasn’t unexpected, but we didn’t need that.”
Game 3, as anticipated, was not short of drama. Cornell got on the board early, just 48 seconds into the first to take the 1-0 lead. Midway through the second period, Zach Tolkinen tied the game at 1 with a drive from the point. Just over a minute later, the Big Red retook the lead off a snipe from Brian Ferlin for his third goal of the series.
As the minutes ticked off the clock at the TD Bank Sports Center, most of the 3,222 in attendance rose to their feet, wondering if the No. 1 team in the nation would be handed an upset.
With 64 seconds remaining in Quinnipiac’s Atlantic City hopes, senior Clay Harvey refused to let the Bobcats’ chance at an ECAC title die. After shots on goal by Jordan Samuels-Thomas and Jeremy Langlois with the extra attacker, Harvey caught the puck on a rebound, poking it past Cornell goaltender Andy Iles to tie the contest at 2.
Following a scoreless first overtime period, Harvey had an additional chance in the second overtime, only to hit the pipe on a shot from the bottom of the near side circle.
Yet, similar to Harvey, it was again a senior who immortalized his name into Quinnipiac history.
At 14:08 in the second overtime, Kevin Bui was hit with a textbook pass from Loren Barron, gaining speed through the neutral zone. Bui skated in alone on a partial breakaway, later deking and backhanding a shot top shelf for the 3-2 victory.
“I’m happy to be off the ice; I’m excited for sleep tonight,” Bui said grinning. “It was a tough three games this weekend. Cornell had a hell of a weekend. We came up on top, we’re off to AC now.”
“That was a great college hockey game,” Pecknold said following Game 3. “Extremely exciting, lots of chances, and some good drama. We found a way to battle back. We’re ecstatic to survive this series, you got to give Cornell a lot of credit, they played great tonight.”
Cornell needed all hands on deck for the final game of the series, as Schafer opted to start Nick D’Agostino, although he broke his hand the night before on a blocked shot.
“It says a lot about the guys in responding in how we played,” Schafer said. “They laid it all on the line in the playoffs. Late in the year, helped turn our fortunes around.”
Before Saturday’s loss, Cornell was 7-1-1 in its past nine games.