Bobcats survive wild opening playoff game
by Seth Rothman
March 7, 2008
HAMDEN — If Friday night’s ECAC Hockey First Round opening game between Brown and Quinnipiac is any indication, it is going to be a wild and crazy month of March for the 12 teams in ECAC Hockey.
Fortunately for Quinnipiac (18-13-4), they scored the final goal in a 7-6 overtime horse race at the TD Banknorth Sports Center in Hamden on Friday.
“That was obviously a little bit different than your typical playoff game,” assistant coach Scott Robson said. “Both teams didn’t play great defensively. It was definitely an entertaining game to be out in the stands for as a fan, but as a coach you rip your hair out.”
The Bobcats trailed 1-0 after 1 period, scored five consecutive goals in the first 4:53 of the second period, saw the lead evaporate with 5.4 seconds left in the third period, and won it halfway through the first overtime session.
“It was a little crazy,” junior winger David Marshall said. “You go up 5-1, you want to slip away but they come back. It shows a lot about our team that we give up a 5-1 lead and still find a way to win. It was definitely an entertaining night — for the fans at least. It was a little nerve-wracking for us. We had fun tonight, and we got a win so we’re all happy. We have to refocus for tomorrow.”
The game started innocuously enough, when only Brown found first period twine. 18:03 into the opening stanza, Brown’s Sean Muncy scored his third goal of the season off a feed from David Brownschidle to give the Bears (6-20-4) the first period lead.
But then, Quinnipiac came alive by scoring five goals in a span of 4:12 to start the second period, taking a commanding lead and forcing the removal of Brown goalie Dan Rosen from the contest. After Brown scored twice in the period to trim the lead to two, Bobcats senior captain Jamie Bates sent the puck into the net late in the second to give the Bobcats a three goal cushion heading into the locker room.
“We were bound to get things going offensively — we’ve struggled our last six or seven games,” Robson said. “We kind of broke out in those first five minutes; I haven’t seen that in a long time. The guys just got their confidence back and were doing a lot of little things.”
That safe lead almost turned into disaster for Quinnipiac when Brown scored three goals in the final 7:01 of the third period — including one tally with 5.4 seconds remaining — to tie the game at six and send the contest into sudden death overtime.
“It was certainly disappointing the way they came back, but I’m happy with the way we dealt with adversity, battled back, and got the overtime winner,” Robson said.
But then, it was David Marshall’s turn to score an overtime winner for Quinnipiac, who improves to 5-2 in playoff overtime games in its history. Three of those wins have now come in the last two years.
Marshall’s winner came after sophomore forward Eric Lampe took a shot from the slot that got stopped out in front. Marshall took the puck from right in front of Sibbald, got stoned once, got it back and made a nifty move to light the red light.
According to some observers, there was some question about whether or not Marshall’s goal actually snuck past back-up Brown goaltender Mark Sibbald and into the net. Marshall doesn’t care.
“I thought it hit the post and went in, I’m not taking it back — I won’t listen to anyone who says it didn’t go in,” Marshall said. “We got the win, and whether it went in or not, we’re up 1-0 in the series.”
Quinnipiac, however, hasn’t won anything yet. Now, they face their biggest challenge — the second win of this three game series.
“It’s going to be a battle. It’s playoff hockey in the ECAC, and any team can win at any given time,” Robson said. “That game could have been Brown’s very easily. Tomorrow should be pretty much the same intensity because they feel they let one get away.”
“Anytime you’re in the playoffs, it’s a little tense,” Marshall said. “You’re playing for your lives every night. We have a lot of seniors on our team that have put a lot into this organization. They’re playing for their lives every night. You don’t want to let those guys down because for a lot of these guys this is it.”
NOTES: Quinnipiac’s five goals in 4:12 is the quickest five-goal outburst in Quinnipiac’s Division-I history. … The seven goals are the most scored by a Bobcats team in the playoffs in their short ECAC history, and the most since they scored nine in the quarterfinals of the MAAC tournament on March 10, 2000. … Game two, on Saturday night, is scheduled for a 7pm opening faceoff in Hamden. Tickets are still readily available.