March 16, 2007 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Bobcats Roll On

by Brett Gobe/CHN Reporter

When the season opened for the Quinnipiac Bobcats, coach Rand Pecknold and his squad had expectations, albeit not the loftiest of ones.

"Our athletic director, Jack McDonald, and I sat down once we got into the league," Pecknold said. "He said, 'What do you think — finish between nine through 12 the first four years and then move up after that?' I kind of agreed, but I didn't want it to take that much time."

Even after the regular season, Quinnipiac couldn't be sure. It finished fifth, and blew an opportunity to finish in the Top 4. Then it went out and defeated Union in two games, and then won two games in the hallowed halls of Cornell's Lynah Rink.

And so after playing possibly their best game of the year in Friday's 4-0 ECAC semifinal, the future is now for the Bobcats.

Using a set of new systems to confuse the St. Lawrence forecheck — prompted by two rough losses to the Saints earlier this season — the Bobcats jumped on their opponent early in the first period and never looked back.

Quinnipiac goalie Bud Fisher had 23 saves for the shutout Friday against St. Lawrence. (photo: Brad Pettengill)

Quinnipiac goalie Bud Fisher had 23 saves for the shutout Friday against St. Lawrence. (photo: Brad Pettengill)

"We brought in a couple of new systems this week, and the team bought in," said Pecknold. "And as far as effort and coachability, we were excellent.

"We kind of learned their forecheck so we could beat their forecheck. And try to do things quicker. The last two games, we didn't have that kind of intensity and we kind of waited, and you wait that extra eighth of a second — and once you're bottled up, you're bottled up."

When St. Lawrence did have chances, it was stopped by Junior Bud Fisher, who put up his second shutout of the season and the first whitewashing of the Saints in 21 games.

"It was an all-around team effort," said Fisher. "(St. Lawrence) got some good chances but we got back and cleared out really well. I think there were two chances where Mark Nelson came back and cleared out the backside rebound."

It was this spirit of team unity that propelled the Bobcats to their third conference championship in five years.

"We have entered the playoffs with an attitude that we are playing to win, not playing 'not to lose,'" said Pecknold. "SLU is an impressive team and we worked hard and found a way to beat their forecheck. We threw some new looks off the faceoff and in the neutral zone and we had a better understanding of how their forchecked worked. We knew in their system if we could break it we would get some odd-man rushes, and we did."

Ben Nelson bookended the scoring for the Bobcats and made mention of the new system.

"We played different against them today then we did the first two times," said Nelson. "We wanted to jump out to a lead and we did. We know we play better ahead."

Facing either Clarkson or Dartmouth tomorrow Pecknold noted both teams have very talented offenses and goaltenders that can steal a game. But with co-Rookie of the year Brandon Wong and set of sophomores and freshmen that could be considered the best in the league, Quinnipiac could be in this position for many years to come.

When asked if the Bobcats we're deserving of their title shot, Wong answered simply, "I think we are a good team and I think we deserve it."

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