Men’s hockey advances to ECACHL championship game

By on March 7, 2007

POSTED 3/16/07 AT 8:12 P.M.

ALBANY, N.Y. – When St. Lawrence defeated the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team three weeks ago in the final weekend of the regular season, it built an early two-goal lead and shut down the Bobcats’ potent offense for most of the game.

Playing in the ECACHL semifinals Friday night, it was Quinnipiac that got a goal five minutes into the game and rode that momentum to a 4-0 win over top-seeded St. Lawrence at the Times Union Center.

The Bobcats, the fifth-seed, will play either second-seeded Clarkson or third-seeded Dartmouth in the ECACHL championship game tomorrow at 8 p.m. A win would give the Bobcats an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, while a loss would likely end their season.

Ben Nelson scored 5 minutes, 9 seconds into the first period for Quinnipiac (21-13-5), which got 23 saves from goalie Bud Fisher to become the first ECACHL team to shutout St. Lawrence (22-13-2) this season.

“That’s what we wanted to do, get a lead early,” Nelson said. “St. Lawrence has gotten out to big leads this season and then rolled with it.”

Quinnipiac was swept in the two-game season series with St. Lawrence, including a 4-1 loss at home Feb. 23, in large part because it was bottled up by the Saints’ forechecking system.

“That was probably the biggest thing we put in this week,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “We learned their forecheck so we could beat their forecheck and try to do things a bit quicker. Once they bottle you up, you’re bottled up.”

Fisher, who struggled at times in February, has posted two shutouts in his last three games to help the Bobcats put together their longest winning streak of the season at five games.

“Guys were dodging in front of shots and playing big defense, that’s the reason we came out with the win,” Fisher said.

Nelson got the early goal after his initial shot from the left point was blocked. He followed up on the puck and fired a slap shot from the top left circle past St. Lawrence goalie Alex Petizian (24 saves).

The power play, which struggled last weekend in the quarterfinals against Cornell, put the Bobcats in front 2-0 in the second period. Reid Cashman shot the puck on net from the right point and Brandon Wong slipped the puck around Petizian at 6:52.

St. Lawrence had a chance to cut its deficit in half with a power play late in the period, but it was Quinnipiac that scored 12 seconds after the man advantage expired. David Marshall carried the puck into the Saints zone and took a shot from the left wing that rolled off Petizian and into the net with 34.5 seconds remaining.

Nelson scored his second goal with 4:05 left in the third on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Bryan Leitch made the pass from along the left boards and Nelson one-timed the puck in at the right post to put an exclamation point on the win for Quinnipiac.

“I was really impressed with our confidence level and we want to keep it going,” Pecknold said. “We’re here to win and I don’t want my players going into games trying not to lose in the playoffs.”

NOTES: Cashman and Wong were honored at the ECACHL awards banquet Thursday night. Cashman was selected as a First-Team All-ECACHL pick for the second straight year, while Wong was named Co-Rookie of the Year and also earned Third-Team and All-Rookie Team accolades.


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