Quinnipiac defeats St. Lawrence 3-2, forces decisive game three

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Kyle Levasseur

By: Kirby Paulson

CANTON, NEW YORK – A quick start and a few goals were what the doctor ordered for the Quinnipiac Bobcats in order to keep the teams’ ECAC Hockey tournament run alive. By the time the final buzzer blew, the prescription was filled.

After being shut out by St. Lawrence in the opening game of the quarterfinals series yesterday, Quinnipiac responded in close fashion forcing a deciding game three in a 3-2 victory.

Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold was pleased with his team’s effort after getting blanked the night before.

“I thought our compete level was excellent tonight,” Pecknold said. “I thought we were a little sloppy in the first, gave up some breakaways, we cleaned that up, settled down a little bit but I thought our compete level was excellent.”

Saints’ goaltender Kyle Hayton had shut out the Bobcats in all three meetings this season, but that quickly came to an end just 16 seconds after the opening face-off. While in the Quinnipiac attacking zone, Alex Whelan pick-pocketed the puck from a St. Lawrence defender and brought it around the net. Nearing the hash marks to the blocker side of Hayton, Whelan fired one past the goalie’s shoulder finding the back of the net for the fifth time of his freshman campaign.

The importance of scoring first has been a key to the Bobcats’ success this season as they are 18-5-1 when doing so. The game was also the first in which Quinnipiac opened up the scoring against St. Lawrence in an ECAC Hockey tournament game as they were unable to do so in a 2009 series as well as the night before.

“Yeah, it’s nice when you score you know, 16 seconds in,” Pecknold said. “Alex Whelan, nice goal, I thought he had a great game tonight; some of our freshmen were really good so it was a good win; Shortridge was our best player and you know he found a way to get us the [win] tonight.”

Later in the period while on the power play, miscommunication on the blue line by the Bobcats led to a two-on-none opportunity for the Saints. After making the initial save, Andrew Shortridge wasn’t able to stop an effort from a crashing Mike Marnell who put the puck home tying things up at one apiece.

Just under two minutes later however, Craig Martin fired one past Hayton on the power play to give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead. Martin would add another one in the second period, bringing his goal total on the night to two and his season tally to eleven.

Martin talked about the importance of his first goal which came at a crucial time for the Bobcats.

“Oh yeah, it’s huge,” Martin said. “We haven’t played against them up like, all year so it’s definitely nice to get that back; it keeps us off our heels, keeps them on their heels and we came out rolling after that.”

The second period came up all Quinnipiac as a fair majority of possession and offensive pressure leaned in the Bobcats’ direction. Additionally, Shortridge did not give up a goal during the period and kept the Saints in check.

It was a recurring theme throughout the game, as even in the first period he was tested on odd man rush situations due to defensive breakdowns. This eventually proved to be a crucial asset, as Shortridge faced adversity in the second half of the third period.

With just under five minutes left in the third period, chaos in front of the net ensued and a puck coming from the stick of Michael Ederer found its way past Shortridge and into the net. After reviewing the play, the referees deemed it a good goal.

However, that would be the end of the Saints’ scoring performance as Shortridge stood tall and didn’t let another puck past him. By the end of the night, he had tallied 31 total saves. Shortridge spoke about focusing on the task at hand when asked what worked for him.

“Just staying in the moment,” Shortridge said. “It’s playoff hockey, everything counts, you can’t let anything aside, got to be intense; you can’t take anything off so just stay in the moment and keep working our bags off.”

Both teams will have to “work their bags off” tomorrow as a pivotal third game will decide which team heads to Lake Placid for a semifinal game, and which team ends its conference tournament run. They will meet once more Sunday night at 7 p.m. at Appleton Arena.

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