Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey’s season ends at Cornell

Justin Cait

[media-credit name=”Chronicle File Photo” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team’s season came to a close at the hands of nationally-ranked No. 2 Cornell on Saturday night at Lynah Rink in Game 2 of the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals.

The loss to the Big Red (25-4-2) marks the first time since 2011-12 that Quinnipiac will not move on to the ECAC Hockey Semifinals and the first time 1995-96 that the program ended its season with a record below .500 (16-18-4).

“It’s disappointing,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “It’s been 22 years since we’ve had a losing season. It’s a pretty good streak that came to an end… But we’ll be aggressive in getting back to where we need to be and we’ll get another streak going next year.”

While Quinnipiac outshot Cornell 22-15, it was unable to beat, not only Big Red freshman goalie Matthew Galajda, but their defense as a whole. The Bobcats racked up 60 total shot attempts, but were forced to shoot from the outside as only 11 came in high-danger scoring zones.

The Big Red clogged the middle of their own zone all night, blocking more shots (23) than it allowed on net over the course of the contest.

“[Cornell] is just a really well-coached team that buys in really well,” senior forward Kevin Duane said. “All of their D do a good job boxing out in front, block a lot of shots and even their forwards do a good job of getting in the shooting lanes.”

Quinnipiac had its chances late in the game as the Big Red took two five-minute majors in the third period alone.

The first came from Cornell forward Anthony Angello, who hit junior forward Scott Davidson from behind just 1:20 into the third. The latter was ruled a direct hit to the head by Cornell junior captain Mitch Vanderlaan on sophomore forward Nick Jermain with just 3:29 left in regulation.

While the Bobcats had their chances on each man advantage, the Big Red stayed true to its hard-nosed effort and blocked a combined eight shots through the two power play chances.

“(After last week’s loss) to Union, we blocked shots every day, except for one day, in practice,” Cornell head coach Mike Schafer said. “… (Junior defenseman captain Chase) Priskie can bomb it, and [our] guys got in front of it and ate it. That’s the kind of sacrifice you need in order to move on.”

Offensively, the Big Red received goals from both of their captains, senior Alex Rauter and Vanderlaan, in pivotal points of the game.

Rauter’s 1-0 goal at just 2:01 into the second period engaged the “Lynah Faithful,” while Vanderlaan put a bow on the elimination game by capitalizing on a Quinnipiac turnover and sniping a hot shot past freshman goalie Keith Petruzzelli’s glove.

The inability to move on to Lake Placid not only ended the Bobcats’ season as a whole, but put an end to five Quinnipiac seniors’ careers as well.

The senior class, consisting of forwards Tanner MacMaster, Bo Pieper, Kevin Duane and Landon Smith and defenseman Kevin McKernan, ended its time at Quinnipiac with 94 wins in 160 games and many achievements as a team.

[media-credit name=”Chronicle File Photo” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]“Brutal way to go out, the whole season in general, but we accomplished a lot in our four years,” a fairly emotional McKernan said. “Whether it be the Frozen Four [or] winning the (ECAC Hockey) Tournament in Lake Placid, it’s been a fun ride.”

While Quinnipiac’s 2017-18 campaign is over, the ECAC Hockey Tournament continues in Lake Placid on March 16-17.