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Quinnipiac falls to St. Lawrence, 2-0, in game one of ECAC quarterfinals

Photo courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

By: MJ Baird

CANTON, NEW YORK – If there wasn’t going to be an upset on Friday at Appleton Arena, something had to give.

The No. 5 seed Quinnipiac entered the game on a five game winning streak, including a sweep of Brown last weekend in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. The No. 4 seed St. Lawrence entered the quarterfinal matchup having gone 1-4-1 in its final six games of the regular season.

On Friday, St. Lawrence held Quinnipiac scoreless for the third time this season and won the first game of the best of three series 2-0.

Quinnipiac’s struggles all season have been in the goal-scoring category, netting an average of only 3.08 goals per game this season compared to 3.79 last season. That amounts to approximately 50 less goals.

However, a big part of Quinnipiac’s struggles on Friday was due in part to Saints’ goaltender Kyle Hayton.

The Richter Award finalist is arguably the best goaltender in the ECAC, owning the best save percentage and third best goals against average among all conference goaltenders.

The program leader in shutouts added yet another to his resume, bringing his career total to 13. The junior continued a streak that now spans 185 minutes blanking the Bobcats.

Quinnipiac did not receive a first-round bye for the first time in five seasons, earning the fifth seed. The Saints on the other hand took the first round bye they earned and put the rest to good use, dominating the Bobcats in most facets of the game.

“We didn’t come close to playing 60 minutes tonight,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “We played about 12. It was a bad effort, a really poor effort all around.”

St. Lawrence fed off it’s home crowd from the get go, proving why they boast a 40-8 record in postseason games at home in Appleton Arena.

The Saints’ first line center, Joe Sullivan, rung the post from an off angle just 45 seconds into the game causing the Appleton faithful to gasp in shock. Only minutes later the assistant captain Ben Masella stuck iron as well, but the puck wouldn’t find its way past Quinnipiac freshman goaltender Andrew Shortridge.

That was until a Quinnipiac defensive zone breakdown.

Sullivan slid a puck out front from behind the Quinnipiac net to a wide-open Michael Ederer. The sophomore wasted no time, rifling the puck past Andrew Shortidge giving Saint Lawrence an early lead halfway through the first which it would never relinquish.

Quinnipiac had several chances on the power play, getting six opportunities. The Bobcats recorded ten shots while skating on the man-advantage, none of which found the back of the net.

“We just have to finish our chances. Like we are getting good looks, and I thought Hayton was good but the puck wouldn’t go in for us and we couldn’t get a bounce,” Pecknold said. “I think St. Lawrence was really good in front of Hayton tonight blocking shots and they played with a lot of desperation.”

However, Pecknold thought that his team did not share the desperate play. The Bobcats outshot the Saints 32-29, but many of which came from deep range or off angles.

“We had a lot of kids that just didn’t make plays and we had a lot of panic in our game,” Pecknold said. “We are a better hockey team than that and we’ll have to bring it tomorrow night.”

Quinnipiac’s frustration set in during the second period, trying to use its physicality to spark the team and instead taking three penalties.

The St. Lawrence power play has struggled this season converting at less than 14 percent, but it produced when the lights shined bright. With less than a second remaining in the second period, six-tenths of a second to be exact, Sullivan tipped a shot from the point past Shortridge extending the Saints lead to two.

Pecknold aggressively pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker with 10:10 to play in the third period, but to no avail.

Tomorrow, St. Lawrence has a chance to sweep Quinnipiac and move on to Lake Placid for the semifinals. On the other hand, Quinnipiac looks to keep it’s season alive and force a decisive game three.

“The sense of urgency we had in the third period is how we have to play all 60 minutes tomorrow,” Quinnipiac senior Tim Clifton said. “It’s hockey. They give you best of three series for a reason.”

Clifton called the teams play “lackadaisical at times.”

In order to leave Canton with the season alive, Clifton and the Bobcats must take things one-step at a time. That starts with a win tomorrow night.

Puck drop for game two is slated for 7 p.m.

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