Coming Up Short Again: Mistakes Doom Quinnipiac
by Joshua Seguin/Staff Writer
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. Quinnipiac entered last year's ECAC tournament, as not only the top seed but as No. 1 in the Pairwise. It was a surprise when it was defeated in the ECAC semis by Brown.
This season, Quinnipiac wasn't quite as dominant throughout, finishing third in the ECAC standings, but still considered a favorite coming into the game Friday against Colgate. The Bobcats were a lock for the NCAAs and the Raiders were hanging on the bubble.
When it was over, the Bobcats had another agonizing ECAC tournament loss, and will go yet another year falling short of an elusive championship. The loss came after leading 2-0, with Colgate tying in the closing minute of regulation, and then winning in double overtime.
But last season, Quinnipiac played arguably its worst game of the season against Brown; this year was much different.
"We are disappointed but I thought we played great tonight," Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. "We had at least four, maybe five breakaways and we scored one goal off of it. That is a credit to Colgate's goalie (Charlie) Finn, he played well. We just need to finish."
Quinnipiac captain Cory Hibbeler agreed with his coach.
"I thought we played much better this year. We made a couple of mistakes that cost us and we missed a bunch of opportunities that is something we will have to live with. We are obviously disappointed with the loss but we will start looking towards next week."
For long stretches, QU carried play and its young defense hung tough against a very potent Raider offense.
"I thought our young defense played great," Pecknold said. "I don't know what the scoring chances were but I think we had more than them. In the end, though, it's not scoring chances that matter, it is goals. They finished better than we did."
It allowed the Raiders just three Grade A opportunities in regulation. Two mistakes ended up in the back of the net. The first on a weird carom off of goalie Michael Garteig's skate, and another on a scrum in front of the net with just 56 seconds remaining.
The Bobcats had a chance in overtime, then again in double overtime to make amends. The amends didn't happen and Quinnipiac, instead of playing in a the ECAC Championship game, will bus home to Hamden wondering why it leaves the tournament again without a Whitelaw Cup.
The comparisons to this team and last year's are going to happen. Although it didn't dominate the league and win the Cleary Cup, it started off hot and made its way to the top of national leaderboard near midseason. That ascension has since taken a detour in recent weeks but Quinnipiac knows there is time left to make amends in the NCAAs, like it did last season when it made the Frozen Four.
"I think we will make a run," Pecknold said. "We need to be better. We were up 2-0. We just have to put teams away and be better. We can't let that first goal happen."
The ECAC did away with the consolation game this season. Quinnipiac will not get the opportunity to gain momentum by winning a meaningless, awkward game before the big tournament begins. That could be a good thing or a bad thing.
"Last year was a little different because there was a consolation game," said Pecknold. "We reloaded for that and beat Yale. This is a good group of guys. We certainly stubbed our toe a bit tonight and we didn't finish off like we should have. We will reload on Monday and be good next weekend."
Quinnipiac has the luxury of having a bigger prize to play for. It is the one its rival took from it last year, a national title.
"We will prepare for next week like we did this week," Hibbeler said. "I felt like we were ready for this weekend. We will have a couple of days off this week and get back to the rink on Monday. We will figure out who we are playing and start preparing for them."