St. Lawrence shuts out Quinnipiac in Game 1 of ECAC quarterfinals

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Justin Cait

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Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey was unable to solve St. Lawrence goaltender Kyle Hayton again as the Bobcats lost 2-0 to the Saints at Appleton Arena on Friday night.

While this is Hayton’s third shutout in a row against Quinnipiac, he was not the sole reason St. Lawrence finished on top tonight.

“I thought Hayton was excellent. He played really well,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “It was a poor effort on our part. We had some guys who really struggled tonight, but you’ve gotta give St. Lawrence credit. I thought they competed and battled. For whatever reason, we had a lot of guys that struggled tonight.”

Quinnipiac’s struggles began on the first shift of the game.

Just 45 seconds in, the Saints hit a post, then struck iron again less than a minute later. While the Bobcats had freshman goalie Andrew Shortridge’s best friend on his side, it wouldn’t last long.

About nine minutes into the first period, St. Lawrence forward Michael Ederer took advantage of a defensive miscue, created open space for himself in the slot, then buried a one-timer past a helpless Shortridge to put his team up by one.

The Saints’ speed, heart, and unwillingness to lose a battle were major keys in that goal, as well as the rest of the night as a whole.

“[We were] lackadaisical at times you could definitely say,” senior assistant captain Tim Clifton said. “You’ve gotta give credit to St. Lawrence. They were phenomenal, in our face all night, played fast, played aggressive and we didn’t match it.”

Going into the second period of play, the Bobcats needed to rebound from a poor first period in which they were outshot 9-7. However, the team did not bounce back after the intermission.

Quinnipiac took three penalties in the middle frame, hindering its ability to produce quality chances in the offensive zone. One of those penalties belonged to junior Kevin Duane, who was called for a trip with just over a minute left to play.

On the ensuing Saints power play, defenseman Ben Finkelstein launched a shot from the blue line with time expiring and forward Joe Sullivan tipped it past Shortridge with a whopping 0.6 seconds remaining on the scoreboard.

“We couldn’t get a bounce,” Pecknold said. “They played with a lot of desperation and we didn’t quite have that same desperation, so we’ll need to bring it tomorrow night.”

Moving into the final period of play, Quinnipiac was down 2-0, but not completely out of the game.

On top of St. Lawrence’s total six penalties, the Saints took three penalties in the third period.

After coming up short on the first power play opportunity of the period, Pecknold sensed his players needed some fire under their bellies on their next chance at the man-advantage in order to push for a closer game.

So he pulled the goalie with 10:10 left in the game.

From that point on, Quinnipiac played on its heels, testing Hayton from any and every direction for 16 shots on goal in the period. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the limited time on attack was not enough to earn a win.

“We didn’t even come close to playing 60 minutes tonight. We played about 12,” Pecknold said. “It was a bad effort, really poor effort all the way around.”

But from those 12 minutes of offensive pressure, a few positives can be taken away for the Bobcats’ next encounter with the Saints.

“That sense of urgency we had in the third period is how we have to play all 60 minutes,” Tim Clifton said.

The next meeting between the two ECAC rivals commences tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in Canton, New York. If Quinnipiac loses just one more game this season, it’s over and the Saints will move on to Lake Placid, New York for the ECAC Hockey Tournament Semifinals.

Despite the potential for the Bobcats’ 2016-17 season to be over tomorrow night, Pecknold has confidence in his players after the lackluster performance.

“We just had a lot of guys that didn’t play well, which is unusual,” Pecknold said. “A lot of the guys have played in the Frozen Four. They’ve played in the National Championship. We won the Whitelaw Cup last year. We played in big games. A lot of these juniors and seniors have played in big games and just happens once in awhile. They’re still 19, 21, 22-year-old kids and every now and then you don’t have your best effort. But we’ll be good tomorrow night. We’ll come back.”