ECAC not as easy as ABC

Doug Manners

After opening ECAC play with wins over Harvard and Dartmouth, the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team has been plagued by close losses, dropping six one-goal games to fall to 4-11 in the conference.

“The thing that’s frustrating is we’re playing well enough to win those games and we’re just not pulling them out,” junior defenseman Reid Cashman said.

The Bobcats have seven regular season games remaining – all ECAC games – beginning this weekend with home games against Clarkson and St. Lawrence. Quinnipiac plays Clarkson on Friday at the Northford Ice Pavilion and St. Lawrence on Saturday at Ingalls Rink in New Haven.

Quinnipiac is 1-7 in the ECAC since winning 3-2 at Princeton on Nov. 22. The team’s lone win during that stretch came on Jan. 6 against Brown, which is the only team in the conference with fewer points than Quinnipiac.

“Our problem is (making) defensive mistakes at inopportune times,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “We’ve made mistakes at the wrong time and these teams are good. If you make a mistake, they’re going to hurt you.”

For the past two weekends, Quinnipiac has played teams from outside the ECAC. The break came at an opportune time for the Bobcats, who were outscored 9-1 by the top two teams in the conference in a pair of losses at Ingalls Rink in their last ECAC games.

“I think we lost a bit of our intensity in those games,” Pecknold said.

On Jan. 13, the Bobcats were pounded 6-0 by Cornell. The next night, Colgate snapped a tie in the second period by outshooting Quinnipiac 10-1 and went on to win 3-1.

“If you don’t have intensity, you’re going to get blown out,” Cashman said.

The Bobcats have a young team. Of the 20 players that have played in at least half of the team’s 16 ECAC games, eight are freshmen and six are sophomores, several of which are playing many minutes.

With many underclassmen in the lineup, the Bobcats have struggled to hold leads and put teams away in the third period. They have been outscored 21-12 in the third period in ECAC games.

“One of our problems has been realizing how focused you need to be to play in the ECAC,” Pecknold said. “We need to be more focused and we still have a lot of kids that are struggling to do that for 60 minutes.”

Playing without a true home ice advantage has made Quinnipiac’s first season in the ECAC even more challenging. The Bobcats won their inaugural ECAC game against Harvard at the Hartford Civic Center and both ECAC games played at the Northford Ice Pavilion.

But this season, while the team awaits the completion of the new athletic center, the Bobcats are playing six home ECAC games at Yale’s home arena, Ingalls Rink.

Quinnipiac has lost its first four games at Ingalls, including a “home” game against Yale on Jan. 8. The Bobcats wore their home uniforms for that game, but sat on the visitor’s bench and used the visitor’s locker room.

“It’s different,” senior captain Ty Deinema said. “All of us, except the freshmen, played (at Northford) for all our home games. You may look at the stats, but I don’t think it makes a big difference.”

Of Quinnipiac’s remaining four home games, two are at Northford and two are at Ingalls. Regardless of where the games are played, though, Pecknold says Quinnipiac needs to play better team defense.

“We need better goaltending and better play from our defensemen and forwards if we’re going to beat some of these top teams,” Pecknold said.