Quinnipiac Unable to Fight Through Providence
by Michael King/Staff Writer
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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. Obviously surprised and disappointed by his team’s performance in a 4-0 loss to Providence in the East regional semi-final, Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold indicated that the physical style of the Friars unnerved his team.
“It was a different game out there than what we were used to all year,” Pecknold said. “There was a lot of obstruction, hooking, and holding. We have to find a way to fight through it better. This would have been a different game in our league, but it was an NCAA tournament game and we didn’t adjust. We should have fought through the picks and interference and we didn’t do a good job of that tonight.”
Providence entered the game with the obvious intent to exploit the physical nature of its style to create an advantage. A few well-timed hits and a few fortunate bounces gave the Friars a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period. Providence continued this strategy and continued to build its advantage.
Then, the Bobcats started to press and couldn’t stem the building frustration.
“In the second period, we started to get some lucky bounces,” Steven Shamanski said. “Our second goal went off one of their defenders, and the power play goal was close to a high stick. After that, you could see them get frustrated a bit and taking shots after the whistle. So we wanted to keep the pressure on.”
Providence kept the pressure on, through the form of two additional goals to build a four-goal lead at the end of the second.
First Bobcat shut-out
All season long, Providence victories have been tied to the strong play of Jon Gillies. The netminder has prevented countless teams across Hockey East and the rest of the country from scoring at their usual ease.
However, Friday night was the first time Quinnipiac was shutout this season. The Friars weren’t surprised by their ability to completely nullifying a strong offensive team.
“I don’t think surprised is the right word,” Gillies said. “We knew that they were a good team. But we also knew that we had the ability to get here.”
Leaman indicated that he’s coached his team to believe that they can beat any team.
“You play the game to win,” the coach said. “If you don’t believe you can win games, you shouldn’t be here – you won’t make it here.”
Eliminating the Bobcats’ usual dominance of the puck was the key adjustment. Although Gillies made 37 saves, the quality scoring chances never materialized for Quinnipiac.
Though having compiled a successful season (24-10-6 overall record), the Bobcats have now been shut-out in consecutive NCAA tournament games with identical 4-0 scorelines. Quinnipiac lost to Yale in last year’s national final.
Pecknold commented that the Providence forecheck did an effective job of preventing his team from possessing the pucks.
“We struggled in the first period with our puck retrieval, and we’re usually very good at it,” Pecknold said. “We lost the race where they scored the second goal. We usually don’t lose races like that. Providence did a good job, but I thought we were sluggish.”
The Friars exerted significant energy chasing down the puck before Quinnipiac could secure possession … The stars of the teams facing off tomorrow night, Providence’s Jon Gillies and Shayne Gostisbehere, played together in the World Junior Championships this past year in Sweden. Team USA lost to Russia in the quarterfinals … Friday’s game was the first NCAA tournament appearance since 2001 and the program’s first victory since a 1991 win over Minnesota … Quinnipiac and Providence skated to a 3-3 tie earlier in the year, but the Friars and Union did not play in 2013-14 … Leaman’s familiarity with Union is well documented, including the two-way ability of its best player. “Gostisbehere might be their best forward, even though he’s a defenseman,” the coach quipped.