Cashman comes through for ‘Cats

Doug Manners

When a team is as young as the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team is, it looks to its veteran players to take charge in key situations such as last weekend’s ECACHL quarterfinals series against Union.

With a chance to sweep the best-of-three playoff series Saturday night, 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. “He’s a big-time player, an All-American and he showed it.”

Quinnipiac (18-13-5), the fifth seed, won 3-1 Friday and swept a first-round series for the second straight season. The Bobcats will play at fourth-seeded Cornell in the semifinals beginning Friday in another best-of-three series.

One of just two seniors on the team, Cashman quarterbacks Quinnipiac’s power play, which went 5-for-12 in the series after going 0-for-19 the previous weekend in losses to St. Lawrence and Clarkson.

Cashman said the key to turning around the power play, which had scored a goal in 14 of 15 home games before being shut down by the conference’s top two teams, was to simplify things.

“If you look at the goals we scored [Saturday], like the overtime goal, it was just getting the puck to the net,” Cashman said. “We had to let the puck do the work.”

On the overtime goal, Cashman’s shot from the left point sailed wide of the net. But an alert Bryan Leitch picked up the rebound and sent a quick pass to Bates, who jammed the puck in at the right post 1 minute, 20 seconds into the overtime period.

“He missed the net because the puck was a little bit on end, but he made the right read to get the puck to the net,” Pecknold said. “He knew that there was an opening and that’s what we were talking about, trying to get some rebound chances.”

The four points (one goal, three assists) tied a single-game career-high for Cashman.

The Bobcats won all five meetings this season between the teams, scoring 28 goals, 13 of which came on the man advantage.

“We couldn’t stop Cashman,” Union head coach Nate Leaman said. “Their power play was darn good. That was the number one thing on our scouting report.”

The game Saturday went to overtime after Quinnipiac blew a two-goal lead in the third period. Josh Coyle scored both goals for the Dutchmen, including the game-tying goal with 3:37 left in regulation.

In regular season ECACHL games, the Bobcats allowed 32 third-period goals, the most in the league. Four of Union’s five goals in the series came in the third.

“We’ve blown some leads this year and then we come back and end up winning, so we’re resilient from that standpoint, 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.”

In Friday’s game, the Bobcats used a pair of late-period goals to win 3-1. Ben Nelson scored a power-play goal with 24 seconds left in the first and Eric Lampe made it 2-0 with 16 seconds remaining in the second.