Murphy’s Law: Learn from your mistakes

Game 2 of the Battle of Whitney Ave is more important than ever

Bryan Murphy, Editor-in-Chief

The most anticipated time of the year for Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey fans is almost here.

Well, yes, the playoffs are almost here as it is the last weekend of the regular season.

But I’m talking about the Quinnipiac vs. Yale game. Which boy, oh, boy is always boatloads of fun.

Now, the two teams have already faced each other once this season. Quinnipiac came out victorious in a 3-2 overtime win after junior forward Odeen Tufto jammed in a loose puck to send the Bobcats home happy.

Morgan Tencza
Sophomore forward Ethan de Jong battles for the puck on the ice.

But let me remind you of the shenanigans that took place in game two of last year’s Battle of Whitney Ave.

There were three ejections, 91 penalty minutes and three suspensions as a result from the 4-1 win for Quinnipiac.

Yeah, if that doesn’t equal rivalry, then I don’t know what does.

The problem was that those two suspensions cost Quinnipiac two defensemen in the first round of the playoffs. Luke Shiplo was suspended for one game, and former captain and one of the top scoring defensemen in Quinnipiac history, Chase Priskie, was suspended for two games.

It was speculated that it would be a big loss, but that Quinnipiac would still be able to get by No. 8 seed Brown in the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals.

Well, if you remember, things did not go that way. In fact, Quinnipiac was stunned and swept out of the conference playoffs.

“In the end, I think we got what we deserved,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said after being swept by Brown. “We took major penalties against Yale in the last game of the year, we deserved our guys to sit, we got punished for that. That hurt us and then we just didn’t play well either night (against Brown).”

So why bring this up? The past is the past, and there’s no point in reflecting on it.

The thing is, Quinnipiac needs to learn from its mistakes last season and make sure what took place doesn’t happen again.

Yes, Quinnipiac got the win against its rival. Yes, it even locked up the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament that night. But it basically cost the team the conference playoffs. No one will come out and say it, as the team could —and probably should — — have still won without Priskie and Shiplo. But there’s no denying the correlation between the suspensions and the early exit from postseason play.

And once again this year, there is a lot riding on the line.

Quinnipiac could have sealed a first-round bye and provided itself with a little bit of relief coming into this final weekend of the regular season.

But that would’ve been too easy, right?

Morgan Tencza

The Bobcats were shut out by RPI on Friday, Feb. 21, and then squeaked out a 3-2 overtime win against Union on Saturday, Feb. 22. All in all, the weekend did not go great, but it could have been worse.

Quinnipiac remains in the third spot in the ECAC Hockey standings, one point ahead of Harvard and three points ahead of RPI. So, what does it have to do this weekend in order to lock up that first-round bye?

Easy. Just win.

That’s really all the Bobcats have to do is win just one game, and they will lock up a first-round bye. Even if RPI sweeps its weekend with Harvard — which is an absolutely huge matchup for this current discussion of first-round bye — and Dartmouth, RPI wouldn’t be able to catch Quinnipiac if the Bobcats get at least one win.

Not only that, but a sweep would also enable Quinnipiac to guarantee itself the No. 3 seed in the tournament. It obviously depends on the outcomes of Harvard’s games, but I imagine Quinnipiac would just like to get the wins.

Finally, Quinnipiac is in a position where it most likely won’t have an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The loss to RPI on Friday essentially closed that door for Quinnipiac, as it now has just a 14% chance of receiving an at-large bid, according to College Hockey News’ Pairwise probability matrix. So, it absolutely cannot afford to slip up in the conference playoffs if it wants to make the Frozen Four.

The point of all this is that there are going to be emotions running high during the game on Saturday. Yale will be fighting for a more favorable matchup in the first round. It’s the last game before playoffs and both teams will want to build momentum.

The rink is going to be rocking. The anticipation and energy will be pumping during the game. Emotions will be running on both sides.

If you’re Quinnipiac, play a hard, physical game. It’s a rivalry matchup, and that’s going to be expected.

But it’s important to remember — there is a lot more at stake here.

Quinnipiac won the battle, but lost the war last season. The team does not want to see that repeated.