Down to the Wire
Final weekend will determine QU’s playoff picture
By: Chris Lopresti
WQAQ.com Men’s Ice Hockey Beat Writer
February 23, 2007
HAMDEN, Conn. – With two games remaining in their sophomore ECACHL campaign, the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team has a chance to do something no one expected – earn a bye in the first round of the conference playoffs.
Despite inconsistent play since the opening of the TD Banknorth Sports Center, this season has already been a big step forward for the Bobcats. Last year’s 9th place finish combined with a first round playoff victory provided optimism for a team entering their second season as a member of the powerhouse conference. The goal, made public by players and coaches, was to climb the standings and secure home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Having already guaranteed themselves a home playoff series, QU can clinch a top four finish and a first round bye with 3 out of 4 points this weekend or a win and a Dartmouth loss to Cornell.
Piece of cake, right? WRONG!
Visiting “The Bank” this weekend will be St. Lawrence and Clarkson, the two teams that currently lead the Bobcats in the standings. Even more intimidating is the fact that they have both played their best hockey down the stretch while Quinnipiac has struggled with conference opponents. In fact, since the opening of the TDBNSC, QU is just 2-3-1 in the ECAC while SLU and Clarkson are 7-1-0 and 5-1-2, respectively. In exactly one month, the Bobcats have gone from leading the conference to a possible 5th place finish.
While SLU and Clarkson have already clinched first round byes, the Bobcats are fighting with Cornell and Dartmouth for the three and four seed. QU had a chance to distance themselves from both teams, but allowed Dartmouth to beat them at home two weeks ago and then lost a tough road game against Cornell last Friday.
It isn’t all bad news for Quinnipiac as they have two things going for them this weekend. First, they played substantially better on last weekend’s road trip. The loss to Cornell can’t be blamed on poor play as Big Red goalie Troy Davenport played a marvelous game. The Bobcats came right back the following day with a win against Colgate. The power play was responsible for all three goals and the team was able to preserve a lead for the win, something they have struggled with in recent weeks.
Secondly, and most importantly, these last two games are being played at home. While they have struggled in the second half, it is evident that the new building provides the team with an immense home ice advantage. They’ve lost just once in six home games since the building was opened and these two games have been hyped up all week long.
Talking to QU students, most of them had this weekend circled on the calendar for about a month. Tickets on sale to the public have been sold out for about two weeks and student tickets were gone within minutes of availability on Tuesday morning. In fact, some students brought air mattresses and camped out around 3 a.m. to ensure that they would get tickets.
The atmosphere inside “The Bank” will be electric this weekend. The players, coaches and fans will all be pumped up and ready to go. The standings and the national rankings (SLU #14, Clarkson #6) favor the visitors. However, in games and situations such as these, numbers and rankings don’t always tell the story. The question this weekend will be: who wants it more? The Bobcats have struggled, but in the end, they are right where they want to be.
Two games left. A shot at the two best teams. A shot at a top four finish. A shot at letting the country know who they are.
It’s down to the wire…