Bobcats overcome slow start, beat Brown

Bobcats overcome slow start, beat Brown
by Seth Rothman
February 10, 2008

HAMDEN — It was the definition of a trap game.

Facing a team that has won two games since November, on a Sunday afternoon with very little noise in the building, the game after the most highly anticipated matchup of the year — this one had all the makings of a contest that would trap Quinnipiac.

Fortunately for the Bobcats, the cheese remains on the trap as Quinnipiac (17-7-4, 9-3-4 ECAC) took care of business in a workmanlike 3-0 victory over Brown University (3-16-4, 3-10-3 ECAC) at the TD Banknorth Sports Center in Hamden on Sunday afternoon.

Quinnipiac came out slowly in the first period, and had to fend off 13 of the first 17 shots taken in the game. Bobcats goaltender Bud Fisher was able to stop each shot, but allowed rebounds fluttering in front of the net that went unclaimed by any Bears players. Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said the first period was flat due to the odd start time, but he’s thankful he was able to get his players to wake up for the final forty minutes.

“We talked about it, we addressed it in many different ways. I tried to switch the lines up to give us a little bit of life,” Pecknold said. “Unfortunately, I do not think we had a good first period; I thought we were real fortunate to get out of there with a 1-0 lead. We addressed it again at the end of the first, and I thought we played a much better 2nd and 3rd. I think we pretty much took over the game.”

The Bobcats had that 1-0 lead thanks to a fortunate bounce.

With just over one minute left in the opening stanza, Brown’s Jordan Lietrus took a hard hit and fell to the ice. While he laid there in pain, Quinnipiac’s Mike Atkinson was able to find the puck and back-hand it into the net past Brown goaltender Dan Rosen (32 saves) to give Quinnipiac the lead. Sophomores Greg Holt and Eric Lampe assisted on Atkinson’s fourth tally of the season. 

“The puck went into the corner, my two line-mates did a great job working it down low, it just fell right onto my stick,” Atkinson said. “Goalie went out to poke-check it, and I put a no-look right into the net. Nothing pretty, but that’s kind of how mine usually go in. Real good work on my linemates’ part, and I was where I needed to be.”

“12:30 games are not something we’re used to,” senior forward Dan Travis said. “I was up at 8; haven’t done that all year. It’s a little weird — usually at 12:30, we’re right in the middle of practice. We came out a little flat, but Mookie (Atkinson) got that goal in the first to at least give us the lead. That was the only good thing in the first period.”

Even though Quinnipiac scored their first goal in the opening stanza, Pecknold didn’t think his team had awoken from the slumber that comes with playing a game at such an early hour — and he let his team know he was displeased.

“We had a little talk with the team and I think that’s when we finally got our energy level up,” Pecknold said. “We had a couple fleeting moments in the first. I thought our intensity in the first period was poor.”

“A little talk from Coach [got us going],” Travis said. “There’s two points in the line, and we had to mature a little bit and realize that. We had to put the odd game time and everything behind us and move forward.”

After a scoreless second period marred by poor stick-handling by both teams, Quinnipiac was quick to get on the board in the third.

At 3:42 of the third period, Quinnipiac struck on a 3v1 break. Chris Myers, who has only played 12 games all year due to nagging injuries, brought the puck into the zone. He fed line-mate Isak Tranvik on the far side, who winged a pass to Travis on the near side. The senior from Wilton, New Hampshire buried the rubber, and Quinnipiac had a 2-0 lead.

Brandon Wong added an empty netter with 28 seconds left to complete the scoring. Tranvik picked up his fourth helper of the season on the tally.

For Quinnipiac, the win gives them another four point weekend. In their last four league weekends, Quinnipiac has picked up 14 of a possible 16 points.

“Anytime you can get points is big,” Pecknold said. “Certainly this late in the year, it’s the home stretch. We’re hoping we can finish in the top four and get a first round bye. Four points is big at this point.”

“It’s huge. Anytime you get four points in a weekend, it’s huge,” Travis said. “Especially for us, we’re battling to get that top slot, trying to stay in the top 4. It’s big for us, but we have to keep it going now. It’s behind us now, and we have to look forward.”

“That’s huge at this point in the season,” Bobcats net-minder Bud Fisher said. “We’re right in the race and a lot of teams are getting points right now. Coming into this weekend, we needed to do that.”

It’s especially big because of what happened around the league on Saturday. Clarkson, who leads the league by 2 points, tied Colgate, Princeton defeated Yale, and Cornell was felled by St. Lawrence.

That means, after today’s win, Quinnipiac is tied for 2nd, but now only two points out of the top spot in the league. They play Clarkson to end the season on March 1.

“Before I went to bed I checked [the scoreboard] out,” Fisher said. “I’m sure a lot of the guys did the same thing and I’m sure Coach was all over those games.”

Fisher had himself another solid weekend, stopping 49 of the 50 shots he saw. Today’s shutout is his 3rd of the season and 9th all-time. He’s already eclipsed the record for career shutouts as a Bobcat, and is now creating the new bar.

“I thought Bud played well. We did a good job in front of him,” Pecknold said. “Tonight we gave up a lot of perimeter shots. Quality chances weren’t there, but he did what he needed to do. He made saves in the first period when he needed to, and anytime you get a shutout in this league is great.”

“First period, Brown played great; I had a lot of shots early,” Fisher said. “The guys did a good job collapsing to the net; I gave up some rebounds, but the guys cleared them right out. They made it easy for me in that respect. Second period we picked it up, and eliminated a lot of their scoring chances.”

For the players, the start time was odd. But what was even more odd was the noise level in the building. It certainly did not have the intensity of the game against Yale forty hours earlier.

“It’s a little bit different from the game on Friday against Yale,” Fisher said. “We have a huge rivalry with Yale. This game, we knew was huge in the standings and we knew they were going to come out flying. It wasn’t too hard to get up for.”

“The building was shaking on Friday, and today there was kind of a lull,” Atkinson said. “You can’t expect too many kids to be here at noon on a Sunday. It wasn’t the ideal time slot, but they had to play at the same time as we did. We came a little bit better prepared than them and took the W. It was a good team win. We played great after the first, and that’s what you have to do to win.”  

NOTES: After getting out-shot 13-4 to start the game, Quinnipiac out-shot the Bears 31-12 over the remainder of the contest. … Only eight penalties were called all game. … Quinnipiac is back in action on Friday at Dartmouth, followed the following night by a trip to Cambridge, Mass. to face Harvard. … Sunday’s attendance was listed at 2,833. … The Bobcats are back at the TD Banknorth Sports Center on February 22. Both of their remaining home games are sold out — only standing room tickets remain available.

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