Seniors say goodbye
The Holy Cross Crusaders already had first-place in Atlantic Hockey wrapped up, but that did not stop them from spoiling the final home game of the season for the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team. The Bobcats squandered a two-goal lead late and gave up the equalizer with three seconds left in regulation as four Quinnipiac seniors played the final home games of their collegiate career at the Northford Ice Pavilion on Saturday evening.
Seniors Bill Cass, Justin Eddy, Mark Hallam and Ryan Morton were all honored with a pre-game ceremony on Friday before Quinnipiac’s 2-1 win over Bentley. Red shirt captain Hallam transferred to Quinnipiac this season after Iona College dropped its varsity hockey program last season. Cass, Eddy and Morton all played four seasons at Quinnipiac and were a part of the program’s first trip to the NCAA tournament in 2002.
Hallam, who is from Medicine Hat, Alberta, joined the Bobcats after registering 101 points (30 goals, 71 assists) in three seasons at Iona College. Although he only has three goals and 11 assists in 32 games played this season, Hallam has been a solid two-way forward and strong leader for the Bobcats.
As the only senior defenseman on this season’s squad, Cass provided the Bobcats’ blueline with much-needed depth and veteran leadership. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound native of Indianapolis, Indiana, has recorded three assists in 27 games played. Cass appeared in a combined 20 games over the past two seasons after suiting-up in 30 games during his freshman year. During his Quinnipiac career, Cass has tallied two goals and seven assists in 67 games.
Eddy has helped form one of the best goaltending tandems in Atlantic Hockey and the MAAC over the past three seasons with junior Jamie Holden. Eddy stormed onto the scene during his freshman year, earning the starting job from senior goalie J.C. Wells and being named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team.
A native of Apple Valley, Minnesota, Eddy has been snake bitten this season. Despite posting the best goals against average (2.52) and save percentage (.924) of his Quinnipiac career, he has only compiled a record of 4-6-3 in 14 games played. Overall, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound goalie is 32-26-8 with three shutouts over the past four seasons.
Morton had a breakout season for Quinnipiac during his sophomore season and has remained an offensive catalyst for the Bobcats since. In the 2001-02 campaign, Morton finished tied for second in the MAAC in goals (11) and ranked third on the team in points (33). In addition, he scored Quinnipiac’s first and only NCAA tournament goal in the 6-1 loss to Cornell.
Morton, who is from Hampden, Mass., ranks second in scoring on the team this season with 10 goals and 11 assists in 32 games played. For his career, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound forward has tallied 45 goals and 43 assists for 88 points in 120 games played.
In their final weekend of the season at home, the Bobcats picked up three out of a possible four points. On Friday, Quinnipiac edged Bentley, 2-1, after dropping back-to-back games to the Falcons a couple of weekends ago.
The Bobcats were one body short for Saturday’s game versus Holy Cross, which secured the league championship on Friday with a win over Mercyhurst. In the first period, Ludwig scored on a rebound staked Quinnipiac to a 1-0 lead that it would keep until the third period.
In the third frame, the two teams exploded for five goals. After Holy Cross tied the game in the opening minute of the period, the Bobcats bounced back to take a two-goal lead with goals from Ludwig and sophomore defenseman Dan Rossi, of Surrey British Columbia.
But the Crusaders battled back with two late goals from Greg Keatley. Holy Cross scored the equalizer with their goaltender on the bench for the extra attacker. Keatley shot the puck from behind the goal line and the puck deflected off the inside of Eddy’s pad into the net with three seconds left. Eddy came up with four saves in overtime to preserve the tie for Quinnipiac.
The Bobcats close out the regular season with games at Sacred Heart and Holy Cross. With a conference record of 10-6-6, the Bobcats are in fourth-place in the nine-team Atlantic Hockey Association. Quinnipiac could finish as high as second-place, but no lower than fifth-pace.
The Atlantic Hockey tournament will be held at Army’s Tate Rink in West Point, New York. All games are single-elimination and the teams are re-seeded after each round.
The quarter-finals will be played on Saturday, March 13, while the semi-finals will be played on Sunday, March 14. The championship game will either be played at 7:00 p.m. on either Friday, March 20, or Saturday, March 21. The winner of the championship game will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.