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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

‘Killer instinct’ key for Quinnipiac in ECAC Semifinal against St. Lawrence

Tyler Rinko
Quinnipiac graduate student forward Zach Tupker corrals the puck in a February 3 game against Dartmouth.

ECAC championship weekend is just days away, and despite the history of Herb Brooks Arena, it won’t take a miracle for the Bobcats to bring home their second Whitelaw Cup in program history. But they will have to break a curse. 

Quinnipiac enters the weekend as the tournament’s No. 1 seed for the fourth-consecutive season. It’s 0-3 in those previous attempts, all overtime losses, twice in the final. 

In 2023, the Bobcats battled into double overtime before falling to Colgate in the semifinals, a game head coach Rand Pecknold called “probably our worst game of the year.” 

In 2024, Quinnipiac looks to reverse its fate and earn an auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016. 

That starts with a semifinal matchup against No. 7 St. Lawrence. The Saints have already proven their upset potential, knocking off No. 3 Colgate in the quarterfinals and earning a regular season win over the Bobcats in February . 

“They’re a tough physical team. They battle hard,” junior forward Jacob Quillan said after Quinnipiac’s quarterfinal series clinching win over RPI on Saturday. 

The key for St. Lawrence to win Friday’s semifinal is the same as it was against Colgate: turn the game into a chess match and be the one to capitalize on opportunities. 

The Saints were outshot by 17 and 21 respectively in their sweep of the Raiders, but squeaked out one-goal wins in both games thanks to stout goaltending and opportunistic offense. 

Freshman defenseman Jan Olenginski’s winner in Game 2 of that series came off an unforced turnover that sprung a breakaway. Colgate largely dominated possession and chances, but one error ended its season. 

RPI sophomore forward Sutter Muzzatti’s game-tying shorthanded goal in Game 2 of the Engineers’ series against Quinnipiac is the epitome of what the Bobcats cannot let happen against St. Lawrence. A lack of effort on the retrieval following an RPI clear allowed Muzzatti to win the puck race and outmuscle his defender to the net. 

Graduate student goaltender Ben Kraws played an enormous role in the Saints’ success last weekend, posting a .957 save percentage across two games, including 47 saves in Game 1. 

Kraws is no stranger to big performances against Quinnipiac – he made 41 saves in the teams’ first meeting of the season. His career-high mark also came against the Bobcats, stopping 49 of 54 shots in a 5-2 loss as a junior with Arizona State. 

The Saints will be tremendously outgunned. They have just two 20-point scorers, Quinnipiac has 11. Their 2.3 goals per game is No. 57 in the nation. Quinnipiac sits third, averaging 4.3. 

The Bobcats drubbed St. Lawrence 8-1 in the teams’ last meeting three weeks ago, though Kraws was not in net. 

There’s no question that Quinnipiac is the better team. But at this stage in March, it has to also be the higher effort team to win and advance. 

“Everyone’s fighting for their lives at that point in the season, you can’t put a team away easy,” Quillan said. “You’ve got to fight every shift, you’ve got to fight every battle.”

That fight needs to begin in the first period, a struggle for the Bobcats all season. If they bear down on the Saints early, St. Lawrence will crack under pressure. If they let them hang around, one mistake could spell another disappointing end in the conference tournament.

“We need to have a little more of a killer instinct,” Pecknold said after Game 2. “But we’ll talk about that as a group and we’ve got to have better buy-in if we’re going up to Lake Placid and win.”

Thanks to its Pairwise position, Quinnipiac already has an NCAA Tournament bid locked up. It’s playing for glory in Lake Placid, and the chance to — finally — be back atop the conference it has dominated in the regular season for the last decade.

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About the Contributors
Cameron Levasseur
Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor
Tyler Rinko, Associate Photography Editor

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