Defense wins Championships
by Seth Rothman
February 23, 2007
HAMDEN — Defense wins championships. Just ask the St. Lawrence men’s hockey team, who wrapped up the ECACHL regular season championship Friday with a 4 – 1 win over the Quinnipiac Bobcats at the TD Banknorth Sports Center.
Fifty-one seconds into the contest, St. Lawrence was already on the board. Max Taylor scored his 11th goal of the season on a flurry in front of Bobcats goalie Bud Fisher. After Brock McBride and Derek Keller each had shots blocked by the Bobcats defense, Taylor took the puck in between the circles and fired one five-hole past Fisher.
After another goal 4:31 later, St. Lawrence never looked back.
“It’s tough to say we lost the game in the first 5 and a half minutes, but in hindsight, we probably did,” Bobcats head coach Rand Pecknold said. “The first goal was real mediocre, and the second goal was just unacceptable. We have three kids on one. That shot should never have even got off.”
The Saints defense outshined the Bobcats potent offense all night, using a trap to their advantage. The Larries deposited 3 defenders across the blue line and forced the Bobcats to dump-and-chase with little success for the rest of the game.
“They just out-competed us. That’s their strength. They compete as well as anyone in the league,” Pecknold said. “They are probably the most competitive team in our league from top to bottom, every kid in their lineup.”
It was that defense that held the Bobcats down on the power play. Despite getting 8 opportunities with a man advantage, the Bobcats manged zero goals.
“They did a good job of stacking it up on their blue line,” Bobcats junior forward Jamie Bates said dejectedly.
“We were 0-8 on the power play. I think a big part of that was we struggled with our power play, but I give alot of credit to St. Lawrence,” Pecknold said. “I thought they did a real nice job on the PK tonight. They won alot of battles, and basically they were hungrier than us.”
“The kids just aren’t buying in the way they did first semester. When we were in first place, we were overachieving a bit,” Pecknold said. “The kids were really buying into doing the little things, and playing with alot of character. This semester has been very difficult. The kids just aren’t playing with that same emotion.”
It’s been something that’s been bugging Pecknold for the most of spring semester. Since the semester break, the Bobcats have gone a disappointing 5-4-1 in the ECACHL, dropping them from tops in the league to clinging to 4th place.
Another surprise was the relative absence of star freshman Brandon Wong. The ECACHL Rookie of the Year candidate failed to record a shot on goal all game.
“It wasn’t one of his better games. St. Lawrence did a nice job of shutting him down,” Pecknold said.
Despite Friday’s loss, the Bobcats still control their own destiny. A win Saturday night against Clarkson will give the Bobcats a first-round bye. A loss, however, and the Bobcats will occupy the 5th seed in the tournament and host the 12th ranked team in the league.
“Home ice on the line,” Bates remarked. “If we can’t get ready for tomorrow night then I think there’s something wrong.”