Bobcats fall flat in game one of quarterfinals

Bobcats fall flat in game one of quarterfinals
by Seth Rothman
March 14, 2008

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – It was a historic night for the Quinnipiac men’s hockey program.

Unfortunately for the Bobcats (19-14-4), the history that was made leaves Quinnipiac one loss away from playoff elimination after Harvard (15-11-4), destroyed the Bobcats 11-0 in front of 1,731 spectators at the Bright Hockey Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“You have to give Harvard credit, they played well,” Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold said. “I thought we had an OK first; those two goals we just lost some battles. The big goal was the third goal they scored. One of my seniors blew a backcheck. It’s hard to win games when kids don’t buy in and don’t want to do it.”

The carnage got started early for Quinnipiac when Harvard’s Mike Taylor shot it from the high slot. The puck deflected off the arm of Bobcats junior defenseman Andy Meyer, who was parked right in front of Quinnipiac junior netminder Bud Fisher, and into the net just 3:03 into the contest.

In a fairly even 1st period where Harvard only outshot the Bobcats 14-12, the Crimson only struck once more. That goal came exactly 3:30 after the first.

Alex Meintel sent the puck across the point. Alex Biega’s shot was saved by Fisher, but the puck squirted through his legs. Dave Watters took it from there, sending the loose puck — sitting in the crease — into the open net to give Harvard the insurance.

“We had some chances early when it was still a game. Richter played well, but we need to do a better job of getting traffic in front of him,” Pecknold said. “If we stayed in the game tonight, if we kept it at 2-0 for a while, I think we score. That third goal just opened the floodgates.”

In the second period, the wheels – and emotion – fell off the Quinnipiac train. They gave up five goals in the period, watched as their starting goaltender got pulled from the game, and according to Pecknold, showed little emotion while doing it.

“Ultimately we played poor defensively, but my goaltending was really bad tonight; it was atrocious,” Pecknold said. “That’s part of the 11 goals, but we need to play better in front of our goalies. I got Bud out of there to let him refocus for tomorrow night.”

None of the goals came in the first nine minutes of the period, a timeframe largely dominated by the Quinnipiac attack.

Five minutes into the middle frame, Harvard’s Brian McCafferty was called for an interference penalty. Over the next two minutes, Quinnipiac put a barrage on Crimson goalkeeper Kyle Richter, but the goaltender with the 2nd best goals against average and save percentage in ECAC Hockey stopped each shot Quinnipiac sent his way.

Two minutes and 28 seconds after the penalty expired, Harvard started to put the game out of reach.

David MacDonald came in on the far side, and sent a pass from near the goal-line to Steve Rolecek, who was right in front. Fisher had no chance, Harvard had the momentum, and Quinnipiac was on the way to its worst ever defeat in the school’s Division-I history.

“The kids aren’t buying in right now. It’s frustrating. We have a lot of seniors, and it’s basically the same team we had last year — we only lost two players from last year,” Pecknold said. “Last year we bought in, the kids overachieved, they really wanted it. Right now, we got some kids ready to go on spring break.”

Over the next 10 minutes and 8 seconds, Harvard scored four more times to take an insurmountable 7-0 lead into the locker room.

Harvard added another four goals in the third period, which may have angered Pecknold, who gave a somewhat cryptic answer when asked if Harvard piled it on in the third period.

“You mean that they had Alex Biega on the 5 on 3 when they were up 10-0? Is that what you mean?” Pecknold said with a wry smile on his face. “I have no comment on that. I like [Harvard head coach] Teddy [Donato], I think he’s a good coach, he needs to run his program the way he needs to run his program. If that’s what he feels he needs to do, that’s fine. I need to deal with my team, I can’t control what he does.”

Many of Harvard’s goals were due to shoddy goaltending from Fisher, who let five goals into the net, freshman Pat McGann who allowed five more, and even senior Dan Cullen, who allowed Harvard’s 11th goal.

But just as many of Harvard’s tallies were allowed thanks to defensive pressure that, according to Pecknold, was severely lacking.

“It’s kids that bought in last year. It’s a competitiveness,” Pecknold lamented. “It’s a fire and a desire to be successful. Last year, we definitely overachieved and this year we’re underachieving. I wish I had an easy answer, because I’d go in there and take care of it.”

So now, the Bobcats are forced to play for their playoff lives. One more loss in Cambridge and Quinnipiac will be on their way home for the summer. They get their chance to turn this series around on Saturday when game two gets underway at 7pm from the Bright Hockey Center.

“I think if we get some goaltending tomorrow night and kids want it bad enough, we can compete with Harvard. We competed with them this year, it’s just one of those games,” Pecknold said. “It happened a couple weeks ago against Clarkson. We’re struggling defensively, we’re struggling with buying into how we need to play to be successful, and the goaltending’s been poor. It’s a combination of things.”

NOTES: Quinnipiac hadn’t allowed double-digit goals since December 9, 2000 when they lost 11-2 against the University of Minnesota. … The loss is the team’s worst in their Division-I history, and their worst since a 12-1 drubbing at Saint Michaels on January 18, 1995, back in the Division-III days. … The scoring margin is the largest in the history of the ECAC Hockey playoffs. … Watters had a hat trick, scoring his 3rd, 4th, and 5th goals of the season. The senior from Eden Prairie, Minnesota added 2 assists. … Fisher stopped 19 of the 24 shots he faced, McGann held firm on 12 of 17, and Cullen was 6 for 7. … After out-shooting Quinnipiac by a small 28-25 margin in the first two periods, Harvard outshot the Bobcats 20-4 in the final frame.

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