Bye, bye first-round bye

By on February 21, 2007

POSTED 2/24/07 AT 11:25 P.M.

HAMDEN – The effort was better, but the result was the same. Even with 43 shots, the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team could only muster one goal for the second straight game as it lost to Clarkson, 4-1, Saturday night at the TD Banknorth Sports Center.

The Golden Knights scored twice into an empty-net in the final 1:03 to knock the Bobcats out of the top four in the ECACHL standings and take away their bye for the first round of the playoffs. With Cornell losing 3-1 at Harvard, the Bobcats needed only one point to finish in fourth.

Instead, Quinnipiac (16-13-5, 10-8-4) loses the tiebreaker for fourth with Cornell and will be the fifth seed, hosting last-place Union in a best-of-three playoff series beginning Friday at home.

Much like Friday’s 4-1 loss to St. Lawrence, it was Quinnipiac’s inability to convert on the power play that hurt it most. After scoring a power play goal in every home game this season, the Bobcats went 0-for-19 on the weekend with the man advantage.

Despite having 24 power-play shots, the Bobcats finished 0-for-11, which included a 1 minute, 55 second five-on-three advantage in the second period.

“A lot of games those pucks are going to go in,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I was very proud of the way the guys played tonight. [Clarkson] is the number six team in the nation and we outplayed them. That’s why they’re a great team, their goalie stepped up and won the hockey game for them.”

Clarkson (21-8-5, 13-5-4) finally broke the scoreless tie with a power-play goal 3:42 into the third period. Junior forward Dan Lefort’s clearing attempt from behind the net failed as Tyrell Mason kept the puck in at the blue line. Mason gave the puck to Shea Guthrie, who skated through the slot and lifted a shot over Quinnipiac sophomore goalie Bud Fisher’s shoulder.

The Golden Knights made it 2-0 with a goal three seconds into a power play at 9:11 when Shawn Weller beat Fisher (22 saves) five-hole with a wrist shot from between the circles.

Quinnipiac solved Clarkson goalie David Leggio on its 40th shot of the night with 3:11 left in the third. Four seconds after a power play had expired, and with Fisher on the bench for an extra attacker, freshman Brandon Wong fired a shot from the high slot over Leggio’s glove.

The Bobcats finished with 18 shots in the third, but a pair of late empty-net goals put the game away for Clarkson.

“We had a lot of high-end chances. I felt like these last couple games we just haven’t been getting the bounces we were early in the year,” senior assistant captain Michael Bordieri said. “If we keep getting pucks to the net, maybe next weekend the bounces will go our way.”

If the bounces don’t, Quinnipiac will have the dubious distinction of being the first team to lose a playoff series to Union since it made the jump to Division I in 1991.


About Doug Manners