POSTED 3/3/07 AT 10:55 P.M.
HAMDEN – When a team is as young as the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team is, it needs its veteran players to take charge in key games like Saturday night’s ECACHL quarterfinals series contest against Union.
Looking to sweep the best-of-three playoff series, the Bobcats got four points from senior captain Reid Cashman, who helped set up Jamie Bates’ game-winning power-play goal in overtime as Quinnipiac defeated Union, 5-4, at the TD Banknorth Sports Center.
“When everything is on the line, [Cashman] finds a way to make things happen,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said.
Quinnipiac (18-13-5), the fifth seed, advances to the semifinals and will play at fourth-seeded Cornell beginning Friday in another best-of-three series.
Cashman, who is one of just two seniors on the team, set up the overtime goal by firing the puck wide of the net from the left point. Bryan Leitch picked up the rebound off the end boards and sent a quick pass to Bates, who jammed the puck in at the right post at 1:20.
“If you look at the goals we scored tonight, like the overtime goal, it was just getting the puck to the net,” Cashman said. “We had to let the puck do the work.”
Cashman tied a career-high with four points (one goal, three assists) in the game. Three of those points came off the power-play, which went 5-for-12 in the series and accounted for five of the eight goals the Bobcats scored over the weekend.
“We couldn’t stop Cashman. Their power play was darn good,” Union head coach Nate Leaman said. “That was the number one thing on our scouting report. Their power play was 19 percent and we can’t be in the box.”
Union (14-19-5) rallied to forced overtime by erasing a two-goal deficit in the final ten minutes of the third period. Josh Coyle, who missed Friday’s game due to a death in his family, scored both goals for the Dutchmen, including the game-tying goal with 3:37 left in regulation.
“We’re resilient, but we need to do a better job defensively,” Pecknold said. “With a two-goal lead with 12 minutes to go, you’ve got to close the door.”
After Union scored the only goal of the first period, Quinnipiac got two power-play goals in the second to take a 2-1 lead. Both goals came on shots from the point, with Cashman’s shot five minutes in deflecting off a couple Union players and Matt Sorteberg beating a screened Union goalie Justin Mrazek with 5:56 left in the period.
“We went back to the tape [this week] and realized we had to simplify things,” Cashman said of the power play, which went 0-for-19 last weekend in losses to St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
Union tied the game at 2-2 with an early third-period goal. Chris Potts skated the puck into the Quinnipiac zone and fired the puck over Bud Fisher’s shoulder from the top of the right circle.
The Bobcats then scored twice to take a 4-2 lead. Less than two minutes after Potts’ goal, Chris Meyers knocked the puck down with his stick and it bounced past Mrazek. At 7:26, Brandon Wong got the puck off the end boards and fired it over Mrazek’s shoulder.
It was just the second goal in the past six games for Wong, who is Quinnipiac’s leading scorer and a candidate for ECACHL Rookie of the Year.
“Brandon was fighting it a bit this weekend. He’s got a lot of weight on his shoulders,” Pecknold said. “He’s a big-time player, but he’s still a freshman and I thought he had a decent weekend.”