Bobcats win Catamount Cup

Bobcats win Catamount Cup
by Seth Rothman
December 30, 2007

18 seconds into the Championship Game of the 2007 Sheraton/TD Banknorth Catamount Cup, Vermont’s Braydon Irwin rang the puck off the post.

For the host Catamounts, it didn’t get much better than that.

Quinnipiac (10-5-2) used stifling defense and an explosive offensive attack to defeat Vermont (4-7-4) by a final of 4-1 in front of 3,880 at the Gutterson Fieldhouse in Burlington, Vermont on Sunday night.

The Bobcats got the scoring started early when sophomore forward Greg Holt took a blast from the point that deflected off junior forward David Marshall, popped high into the air, and behind UVM goaltender Joe Fallon to give Quinnipiac the advantage 7:25 in. Junior Bryan Leitch also assisted on the power-play tally.

2:07 later, the Bobcats struck again.

Jean-Marc Beaudoin skated into the far side corner and fed a streaking Dan Travis, who sent it into the net for his 4th goal of the season. Brandon Wong was also awarded an assist on the even strength goal, giving him 11 assists on the season.

Despite the lead, the Bobcats weren’t done pressuring the Catamounts in the 1st period. With three minutes remaining in the stanza, Travis came in with Wong on a 2-on-1 break. Travis fed Wong, who rang the rubber off the pipe to keep the lead at only two.

With 16 seconds left in the 1st period, however, Vermont struck back. Peter Lenes sent the puck into the low slot to Braydon Irwin, who took a shot that was stopped by Bobcats junior netminder Bud Fisher. While standing next to the net, Irwin got the puck back and acrobatically sent it through the crease and into the net to cut the Bobcats lead in half at the 1st intermission.

That’s how the score stood for nearly 18 minutes thanks in large part to Catamount Cup MVP Bud Fisher. Throughout the game, Fisher made 19 stops, in addition to his 18 saves in Saturday’s win over Western Michigan to earn the MVP honors.

“It helps when you have good goaltending, and Fisher played great on both nights,” Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold told WQUN’s Chris Kotsopoulos after the game.

With 2:31 left in the second period, Quinnipiac got some much needed insurance. It came off a brutal mistake in the Vermont zone by Catamount forward Brian Roloff. He had the puck to the far side of his own goal, when he inexplicably lost it. Travis was right there on the doorstep for his second tally of the game and 5th of the season.

The backbreaker, though, came on a Vermont power play. It’s been special teams that led the Bobcats offensive attack in the first semester, and the special teams’ success continued tonight.

With 11:09 remaining in the contest, Eric Lampe came in shorthanded and wristed a shot towards Fallon’s glove. It deflected off the glove and into the net for Quinnipiac’s 4th shorthanded goal of the season, and the three goal lead Quinnipiac would not relinquish.

“I thought we played hard both nights. The guys were gritty,” Pecknold said. “We had four really good players out of the lineup, but everyone stepped up and played well.”

The first semester started with four uninspiring games against Atlantic Hockey opponents. Two were wins, two were losses. Now, the second semester has started with 2 highly inspiring wins over the CCHA’s Western Michigan Broncos, and Hockey East’s Vermont Catamounts.

Despite the positive start to the semester, Pecknold knows the team’s biggest games are yet to come.

“It’s a great win, a great weekend, but now we have to get ready for Harvard and Dartmouth,” Pecknold said.

Those two games, conference games, are the ones Pecknold and the Bobcats are most concerned about. Certainly, winning the 2007 Sheraton/TD Banknorth Catamount Cup means a tremendous deal to the team: it’s their first regular season tournament win since 2005’s Quinnipiac Cup. But their conference schedule means more.

It’s that conference schedule that begins again on Friday. If the Bobcats play then like they did tonight, their second half will go much better than the first.

NOTES: In addition to the Tournament MVP honors, Bud Fisher was also named to the all-tournament team… Dan Travis and Jean-Marc Beaudoin were the other Bobcats named to the Catamount Cup all-tournament team… The other players on the all-tournament team were Vermont’s Peter Lenes, Western Michigan’s Nathan Ansell, and Holy Cross’ Everett Sheen… Travis had the only multi-goal game of the tournament, while Beaudoin was the tournament’s leading scorer with 1 goal and 2 assists… The Bobcats are now on a 5 game winning streak, dating back to December 1 vs. RPI… Quinnipiac is back in action on Friday against Harvard and Sunday against Dartmouth. Both games will be televised by NESN.

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