Men’s hockey sweeps Cornell

By on March 7, 2007

POSTED 3/10/07 AT 10:56 P.M.

ITHACA, N.Y. – If there was one advantage the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team had heading into this weekend’s ECACHL quarterfinal series at Cornell, it was the power play. Yet with the final five minutes ticking off the clock in a tie game Saturday, it looked as if the man advantage might be what would prevent the Bobcats from completing the sweep.

After having failed to score on 10 power plays in the series against one of the worst penalty-killing teams in the nation, Quinnipiac finally cashed in with a five-minute power-play winding down.

Ben Nelson scored on a rebound in front of the net with 4 minutes, 21 seconds left in the third period to lift the Bobcats to a 3-2 win at Lynah Rink and a two-game sweep of the series.

“I’m on such an emotional high right now; the whole team is,” Quinnipiac captain Reid Cashman said. “We have confidence, but there’s no way I thought we were going to sweep. I thought if we could get it to a game three, we’d have a chance.”

Fifth-seeded Quinnipiac (20-13-5) advances to the ECACHL semifinals Friday in Albany, N.Y. The Bobcats will face top-seeded St. Lawrence at 4:30 p.m. with the opportunity to advance to Saturday’s championship game Saturday, the winner of which earns a spot in the NCAA tournament.

To make it to Albany, the Bobcats had to win a series in one of the toughest rinks in college hockey for opponents to play in. Fourth-seeded Cornell (14-13-4) came into the series with a 40-5 all-time record in playoff games at Lynah Rink.

“We’re definitely, as a program, on cloud nine right now,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “To be able to sweep them, it’s pretty special for a young program like ours.”

With the game tied at 2-2, the Bobcats went on a five-minute power play with 9:05 left in the third after Raymond Sawada picked up a boarding major for hitting Sami Liimatainen in the corner to the right of Bobcat goalie Bud Fisher (19 saves).

With 17 seconds left in the power play, Nelson followed up on Cashman’s shot at the left post and popped his own rebound over Cornell goalie Troy Davenport’s left shoulder.

“I tried to slide it five-hole, I got my own rebound and I knew [Davenport] was down so I just tried to get it up as quick as I could and fortunately it rolled over his shoulder,” Nelson said.

The Bobcats, who went 5-for-12 on the power play in a first-round sweep of Union, struggled tonight just to set the puck up with the man advantage.

“Our power play was pretty bad tonight,” Pecknold said. “But we found away and if you keep sending good players out there, they’re going to find a way to score goals.”

David Marshall scored 23 seconds into the game for Quinnipiac, but Cornell answered with a pair of goals in the final six minutes of the first period to take a 2-1 lead.

That lead stood until Brandon Wong, scored on a 2-on-1 breakaway with 3:48 left in the second. Cashman chipped the puck into the neutral zone to Greg Holt, who carried the puck down the left wing into the Cornell zone. Holt sent a cross-ice pass to Wong and the Bobcats’ leading scorer fired the puck over the glove of Davenport (24 saves).

A meele ensued in the right corner after the goal and after nearly five minutes of sorting out the penalties, the Bobcats went on a power play, but failed to get a shot on goal.

It didn’t matter much, however, when Nelson finally solved the Big Red penalty-killing unit to send the Bobcats to the semifinals in just their second season in the ECACHL.

“We just had to keep plugging away and [Nelson] is such a pure goal-scorer that he knew what to do,” Cashman said.

NOTES: The Bobcats have likely lost their second-best defenseman, Matt Sorterberg, for the remainder of the season. Sorterberg is expected to miss 3-5 weeks with a sprained ankle that he injured during the on-ice celebration following Quinnipiac’s 1-0 overtime win Friday. Josh Duncan replaced him in the line-up…Quinnipiac was the only lower-seeded team to advance in the quarterfinals as St. Lawrence, Clarkson and Dartmouth all picked up sweeps at home.


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