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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac finds a way, squeaks by RPI 5-2 to advance to ECAC Semifinals

Nicholas Pestritto
The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team celebrates after scoring a goal during Game 1 of the ECAC Quarterfinals against RPI on March 15, 2024, at the M&T Bank Arena.

HAMDEN — Much like in Game 1, Quinnipiac men’s hockey didn’t put its best showing on the ice in Game 2. This time, it almost cost them. 

Nonetheless, the Bobcats found a way to top RPI 5-2 in Game 2 of the ECAC Quarterfinals Saturday night, and advance to the semifinals.

“It was a good resilient win, probably wasn’t our best game early but we found a way to come back,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I thought RPI was great tonight. They made a lot of big-time plays, big-time goals. We just dug in a little bit and found a way.” 

The final score doesn’t show how close the Engineers came to forcing a Game 3. They had the defending national champs searching for answers against a team they were supposed to dominate. 

As the first period opened up, it was clear that RPI wasn’t going away from that same pesky-style of hockey it showed Friday. Instead it ramped it up. 

Holding players down, slashing at their hands and bumping after whistles, the Engineers were doing it all — and they were getting away with it. That was until the officials called a faceoff violation on RPI freshman forward Brad McNeil. This was something that Pecknold put emphasis on following Game 1 — and Saturday’s officials agreed. 

“Credit to them, they came out really hard,” junior forward Jacob Quillan said. “They didn’t want to go away easy that’s for sure. They definitely didn’t.” 

The Engineers’ desperation throughout the first frame was palpable, and the Bobcats were having trouble matching it. 

“I thought our first (period) was low energy … It’s hard when (they) have that kind of desperation,” Pecknold said. “I was really disappointed, I didn’t feel like we had any.”

Quinnipiac wasn’t doing itself any favors in the second frame either. Senior forward Christophe Fillion was ejected following a major boarding penalty, and forced the Bobcats to only play three forwards at left wing. Graduate student defenseman CJ McGee followed that up with a minor penalty, giving RPI a five-on-three advantage. 

Quinnipiac was on its heels — just waiting for a knockout blow. 

The Engineers couldn’t deliver one fast enough. Freshman forward Andon Cerbone snapped a lightning-fast wrist shot that pinged off the left post and into the net to breathe life into M&T Bank Arena. Just 59 seconds later, sophomore forward Anthony Cipollone notched his second goal of the weekend, and all of a sudden it was all coming up Bobcats. 

“We’re just kind of focusing on the next shift,” Cerbone said. “I feel like we did a good job of that tonight … Kind of came out a little slow in the first, but we built off it and found a way to have success.” 

Before the goal horn could stop blowing RPI was back on the attack. Eighteen seconds after Cipollone’s goal, RPI senior defenseman Lauri Sertti fired a shot from the blue line and with the help of an Engineer screener, cut the lead in half. 

RPI’s desperation showed again just two minutes later while on the penalty kill. An Engineer defender flicked the puck down the ice to stall the attack but sophomore forward Sutter Muzzatti caught the Bobcats off guard. He booked it down the ice, beating junior defenseman Davis Pennington and blowing past senior goaltender Vinny Duplessis to erase Quinnipiac’s two-goal lead in less than two minutes. 

“We were all over the map with our intensity and our passion and we lacked it at times and then we got it,” Pecknold said. “We don’t block a shot for that first goal … Just a poor effort there and then we got smoked for the shorty which is just not acceptable.”

In the third, Quinnipiac finally seemed to show that killer instinct that it lacked in the first two periods. Cerbone — who had five points on the weekend — fired home a blast mid-way through the frame that ultimately became the game-winner. 

“It was a good team effort from about halfway on,” Pecknold said. “We found a way so we move on.” 

Quillan and junior forward Collin Graf tapped in a pair of empty-net goals to tuck the Engineers into bed for the offseason. Quillan was celebrating his bobblehead night — commemorating his game-winning overtime goal in the 2023 National Championship. 

“It’s an honor to have a whole night dedicated to me and my teammates there, and I’m thankful that we can do this stuff,” Quillan said. “I’m just so thankful that I could play here at Quinnipiac, in front of all those people.”

Quinnipiac will now move on to Lake Placid, New York, to face off against St. Lawrence in the ECAC Hockey semifinals on March 22. Puck drop is set for 4 p.m. 


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Colin Kennedy
Colin Kennedy, Managing Editor

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