Men’s hockey to hit road

Doug Manners

Exactly where the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team will be playing next weekend in the first round of the ECAC postseason tournament is uncertain. But the Bobcats are guaranteed that they won’t be playing at home.

Quinnipiac (16-15-1, 7-12-1 ECAC) rallied from deficits twice in the third period Saturday to tie RPI, 4-4, in its final home game of the season before 1,954 at Ingalls Rink in New Haven. While the Bobcats picked up a point, Clarkson crushed last-place Brown, 8-2, assuring that Quinnipiac can finish no higher than 9th place in the ECAC.

The Bobcats put a 3-1-1 run together to challenge for home-ice advantage in the first round of the tournament, but a slow start was too much to overcome. After opening its ECAC schedule with two wins, Quinnipiac lost eight of its next nine games and took a 3-9 ECAC record into winter break.

“What some of the other ECAC teams did better than us is (having) that kind of playoff intensity in November,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said on the WQUN AM 1220 postgame show. “It’s so tough to get points, and if you want to finish with home-ice advantage or finish with a bye, the points in November are just as important as the points in February.”

All 12 teams qualify for the postseason in the ECAC men’s league, with the top four teams receiving a first-round bye. The teams seeded 5-8 host the bottom four teams in a best-of-three series March 3-5. The Bobcats wrap up the regular season this weekend with games at Yale on Friday and Brown on Saturday.

“The bottom line is we need to just keep focusing to get better,” Pecknold said. “We want to go out strong and get a little momentum going into the playoffs.”

In Saturday’s game, the Bobcats erased a 3-1 deficit with a pair of goals two minutes apart in the third period. Sophomore forward Jamie Bates scored at 5:18 and then freshman defenseman Matt Sorteberg blasted a slap shot past RPI goalie Mathias Lange on a five-minute major power play.

The two teams then traded power play goals, with RPI pulling ahead at 13:12 before Bates scored 1:15 later for the Bobcats to tie the game at 4-4. Freshman goalie Bud Fisher finished with 19 saves for the Bobcats.

“It was a great third period,” Pecknold said. “Being down 3-1, and not looking like we had much life at all in the second, the guys came back and we did a good job.”

Junior defenseman Reid Cashman tallied two assists to reach the 100-point plateau in his Quinnipiac career. Cashman is just the third defenseman and 24th player overall to reach the milestone for Quinnipiac.