Men’s ice hockey downs Cornell 5-2

Men's ice hockey downs Cornell 5-2

Max Molski

No. 1 Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey defeated No. 8 Cornell Big Red 5-2 on Friday night in the first game of its ECAC Hockey Championship Quarterfinal Series at the High Point Solutions Arena. The Bobcats’ first line of Sam Anas, Travis St. Denis and Landon Smith led the charge as they each contributed three combined goals in the win.

“Cornell is a big team, so we just had to use our speed to find the open areas,” St. Denis said. “I thought we did a great job of that and it’s kind of how my line was successful today.”

[media-credit id=1989 align=”alignright” width=”300″]DSC_0076[/media-credit]

Cornell kicked off the scoring three and a half minutes into the contest. Derek Smith, in his first game since Feb. 20 and only his third since Jan. 29, faced a two-on-one rush by the Big Red. He dove in front of Cornell’s Andrew Weidner, but Weidner beat Quinnipiac goaltender Michael Garteig over his right shoulder to give Cornell the early edge.

The Bobcats had an odd-man rush of their own midway through the period. Landon Smith brought the puck up the right side of the ice with Anas and Chase Priskie streaking up to his left. He eyed down Anas but sniped a short-side shot past Cornell goaltender Mitch Gillam to tie the game up.

Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said that his team was nervous in the early going but noticed a turning point in the middle of the period.

“They’re just things we haven’t been doing. Guys get nervous. They’re excited. They’re still kids,” Pecknold said. “We settled down after that, especially when we made it 1-1. We kind of took off.”

It only took St. Denis 30 seconds to open the scoring in the second period. He poked a puck from underneath Gillam and backhanded the puck while falling down to put Quinnipiac up 2-1.

“I was wide open in front of the net there and [Connor] Clifton made a nice shot from the point,” St. Denis said. “I gave it a whack and it came out from the crease. I just whacked it in. Then I got cross-checked and it ended up in the net so I was happy.”

Thomas Aldworth put the Bobcats up 3-1 just three minutes into the period. Connor Clifton blasted a one-timer and Aldworth swept in the rebound for his sixth goal of the season.

“We were getting traffic to the net,” Clifton, who picked up his third and final assist of the night on Aldworth’s goal, said. “Gillam is a small goalie and we were getting our big bodies in front of him.”

Cornell cut Quinnipiac’s lead in half when Jeff Kubiak wristed a goal past Garteig on the power play. However, the Bobcats got a power-play of their own with 1:52 left in the period. St. Denis sent a pass to Anas, who blasted a one-timer. The shot deflected off Landon Smith to give him his second goal of the game and tenth of the season.

The lone goal of the third period came from Soren Jonzzon, who lofted the puck from the Quinnipiac side of the ice into Cornell’s empty net to secure the 5-2 final.

The two teams return to the ice tomorrow for game two at 7:00 p.m. The Bobcats have a chance to sweep the series and advance to the tournament’s semifinals in Lake Placid, NY with a win. If Cornell wins tomorrow night, the series will advance to a third game at 4:00 on Sunday. Pecknold stressed the importance of closing out the series in two games.

“It’s crucial to get game two against anyone you play,” Pecknold said. “You don’t want to play on Sunday. You don’t. I don’t care who you have, any of the other 11 teams, whatever year it is. You want to win in two and have that extra day of rest.”

[twitter-follow username=”MolesDontSki” scheme=”dark]