Quinnipiac leaves Lake Placid with disappointment after yet another painful loss


Connor Coar

Quinnipiac men’s hockey will face Merrimack in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on March 24.

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

 LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – Some call it bad luck, some say it’s not built for the pressure, some even claim it’s a curse. Whatever the case may be, Quinnipiac men’s hockey flopped yet again in the ECAC Hockey Tournament, falling in double overtime to Colgate in the semifinal round Friday night. 

It’s the third consecutive season the Bobcats have bowed out of the conference tournament in overtime, falling in the championship game to St. Lawrence in 2021 and Harvard a year ago. This time around, the team failed to even make the title game, as the Raiders successfully avenged their 2022 semifinal loss to Quinnipiac. 

“I give (Colgate) a lot of credit,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said postgame. “Don Vaughan did a great job getting his team ready. They were confident, they made plays. For us, we just didn’t play well.” 

It wasn’t for a lack of offense. The Bobcats created a number of scoring chances throughout the contest, putting 41 shots on Colgate junior goaltender Carter Gylander. They came within inches of a game winner in overtime, as a tremendous stick save by the Raiders’ netminder slammed the door on senior forward Joey Cipollone. 

What hurt Quinnipiac the most was a carelessness with the puck in the critical areas of the ice. Unforced turnovers and misplayed pucks were rampant through all 89 minutes of action.

“Our o-zone play tonight was atrocious,” Pecknold said. “That’s a big part of why we’re good. We generate offense from it and we don’t have to play defense. The amount of shots we gave up tonight was staggering.”

Defensemen struggled to control the puck at the blue line, creating odd-man rush opportunities the other direction and wingers consistently sent blind passes up the boards on the breakout. Both of Colgate’s goals were a result of broken breakout plays that the Raiders flipped and capitalized on.

This is the same team that held Yale to five shots a week ago, a 20-year low for NCAA men’s Division I hockey. To play such superior team defense one weekend and falter the next, it doesn’t make much sense.

“We’re usually pretty good about hitting the reset button and playing better as the game goes on,” Pecknold said. “We just didn’t do that today. It’s unfortunate.”

Why is it that when the lights are the brightest, the Bobcats take their foot off the gas? Four 30-win seasons and seven regular-season titles in the last decade, but only one postseason title to show for it – that lone ECAC Hockey Tournament win in 2016.

Winning is difficult, there’s no denying that, but to win so consistently in the regular season year in and year out, and then stumble when the stakes are elevated, it raises questions about the team’s hunger come playoff time. What desire is there to raise your game when you’re able to walk over opponents all season?

Adversity hardens teams. Colgate proved that fact. The Raiders finished the regular season below .500, and entered the ECAC Hockey Tournament as the No. 5 seed and rattled off five-straight wins en route to their first conference title since 1990.

“We’ve got to learn from it, get hungry again, I’m not sure why we weren’t today,” Pecknold said. “Probably the thing that we do best is we’re ready to go, we catch teams all the time.”

It’s up to Quinnipiac to use this adversity to propel them in the NCAA Tournament. Denver, last season’s national champion, did just that. The Pioneers were bounced in the NCHC semifinals, but went on to storm their way into history.

Just four games separate the Bobcats from a national championship. But then again, only two stood between them and a conference title this weekend, and we all know how that worked out.

It’s up to the 26 men on the roster to erase this game from everyone’s minds and prove themselves on the national stage. You don’t win 30 games by accident; this weekend’s NCAA Regionals are a chance to show that.