March 17, 2017 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Quinnipiac Bows Out Early This Time, But Sets Tone to Return

by Jashvina Shah/Staff Writer (@icehockeystick)

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Quinnipiac needed to win. The Bobcats hadn’t been a win-or-go-home situation, excluding the NCAA tournament, in a long time. And the Bobcats had had a good season, racking up 23 wins — the same number of wins they had in 2014-15. But the Bobcats were on the outside of the NCAA tournament looking in, and they needed an automatic bid to advance.

But at the Herb Brooks Arena, where miracles are made, Quinnipiac couldn’t find the one they needed. The Bobcats fell short to Harvard, ending their season early and packing the bus back down to Hamden.

“I thought we did a good job shutting down the [Alexander] Kerfoot line but not good enough on the [Sean] Malone line,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. Malone had a hat trick in the game. “So, disappointing end of the season, but really proud of this group. We won seven of eight, the last eight before coming in, great series against St. Lawrence, a nice series with Brown.”

It's a different situation than last season for Quinnipiac, when it won the ECAC tournament championship and made the NCAA final game.

The Bobcats kept it close through two periods, entering the third trailing by just one goal. Harvard had scored first, but Thomas Aldworth tied it. Malone gave Harvard the lead in the second, ending the middle frame with a 2-1 Crimson advantage. But Malone scored this third goal just four minutes into the first, sending the Bobcats to the brink.

“I don’t think the desperation was good enough through the first two periods,” Pecknold said. “I thought it was okay. We had some kids that were just awesome tonight. … We had some of our players, not a lot but a few, that struggled in the moment and didn’t play well. It’s a team sport, we really needed all 19 guys going tonight to beat a team as good as Harvard, so it’s disappointing.”

Maybe the Bobcats, who struggled early on in the season and finished fifth in the league, should never have been at Lake Placid. But last year’s Frozen Four participants got hot at the right time, and won the last two games in a three-game set against St. Lawrence, at St. Lawrence, to earn a trip to Lake Placid.

“Harvard’s the most talented team in the country, they have the puck a lot and we just didn’t do a good enough job separating them at times,” Pecknold said. “I think when we had the puck we played with just a little bit, not a lot, but a little bit of panic in our game. We needed to possess it and work their D down low and we talked about it all week long and we didn’t really do a great job of it. I thought we could’ve gotten some more offense out of that.”

Quinnipiac comported itself well, though, showing a lot of the same trademarks of past years' teams. It just didn't quite have enough this season, but expect a return to top form soon.

“I think Quinnipiac has a way to really play on the edge and draw you in a little bit of chaos,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “They’re very good at it they have excellent special teams. Both their penalty kill and power play to me is very well coached and very well executed.”

The only bright spot for a team who fell short of their goal is for what next season will bring. Two of Quinnipiac’s top scorers are underclassmen and Shortridge — who posted a .920 save percentage this year — is just a freshman.

“It’s obviously important in the sense that want to set a tone for next year, but our season ended,” alternate captain Tim Clifton said. “We have a couple months, the younger guys have a couple months before they get back to work. … And having a good summer is more important than how you finish your last game.”

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