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Bobcats limping towards ECAC playoffs
Frustration looms over the Bobcats after being swept for the second straight weekend, this time by way of two heartbreaking overtime losses at the hands of the Cornell Big Red and Colgate Raiders.
On Friday, a crowd of 3,387 saw the Big Red down the Bobcats 3-2 despite the efforts of David Marshall, who scored the game-tying goal with 1:13 remaining in regulation time to send the game to overtime. Sunday’s story was awfully similar. Senior Day ended somberly as the Raiders triumphed 4-3, after a turnover in the neutral zone led to a Raider goal with a minute remaining in overtime.
“You never want to lose four games in a row,” Senior captain Jamie Bates said, “But its better now than later.”
The losses also drop the Bobcats (17-11-4 overall, 9-7-4 ECAC) to sixth place in the ECAC and lessen their chances for finishing in the conference’s top four spots which yield first round byes in the post-season tournament.
“We’re in a dogfight right now,” assistant coach Ben Syer said. “We want that home-ice bye and we have to bounce back. Our guys don’t want to play that opening weekend.”
After the weekend’s results, QU can finish anywhere from 3rd to 8th place. Quinnipiac also dropped out of the USCHO.com/CSTV Division 1 Men’s Ice Hockey poll for the first time since Dec. 31, 2007.
Injury and fatigue each played a big part in both games. Eric Lampe was helped off the ice on Friday and was a late scratch on Sunday. Also, both Brett Dickinson and Jean-Marc Beaudoin missed significant time during Sunday’s game. According to Pecknold the team is down to about 15 healthy players as of Sunday.
“I think the biggest thing we have to do is find a way to get healthy,” Pecknold said. “Hopefully we haven’t lost these guys for significant time.”
Marshall and Greg Holt each had two point games, Friday and Sunday respectively, and goalie Bud Fisher turned away a total of 35 shots on the weekend. The Bobcats outshot the visiting New York teams by a total of 64-42 on the weekend but could not translate the shot advantage into goals.
With only two games remaining in the regular season, Coach Pecknold acknowledged changes have to be made in order for the Bobcats to end their four game losing streak and ultimately progress in the postseason.
“Some of the top players are just absolutely awful right now,” Pecknold said. “We can’t win hockey games when that happens. We have to for them to start getting their confidence back.”
The Bobcats got off to a slow start on Friday and allowed Cornell to mount a 2-0 deficit. But the Bobcats would cut Cornell’s lead to one at 6:38 into the period when Marshall found sophomore winger Mike Atkinson in front of goal. Atkinson coolly deflected Marshall’s pass over Big Red goalie Ben Scrivens.
That set the stage for Marshall’s heroics. With 1:13 left in regulation, the Buffalo, Minn. native corralled a loose puck to the left of goal and fired a hard wrist shot that Scrivens got a piece of but could not keep out of the net. Brendon Wong and Beaudoin were credited with assists on the goal.
“Dan Travis made a great play, forcing the guy,” Marshall said of his goal. “I got lucky that it popped onto my stick.”
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, Cornell was determined to nullify Marshall’s effort. With only 19 seconds left in the overtime period, Mike Kennedy corralled a loose puck in front of Fisher and fired the puck into the net to clinch the Big Red’s victory.
“I thought it was really a hit and miss game,” Syer said, “At the end of the day I think we’re rather disappointed not to get at least one point out of this because I thought we fought hard and battled, especially late in the game.”
Prior to Sunday’s home tilt, Quinnipiac honored the Bobcats’ seven seniors who would be playing their last regular season home game at the TD Banknorth Sports Center. Mark Agnew, Dan Cullen, Dan LeFort, Ben Nelson, Dan Travis, assistant captain Matt Sorteberg and captain Jamie Bates were all honored. Despite the pre-game festivities, the Bobcats would not be celebrating in the end.
The Bobcats opened the game’s scoring at 7:50 in the first frame when Holt took a feed from Nelson at the point and patiently walked the puck towards the net before unleashing a low shot through traffic and past Colgate goalie Mark Dekanich. The lead wouldn’t last long however as just under two minutes later Colgate leveled the score at 1-1.
Wong put QU back on top when he won a battle for the puck in front of goal and slid a backhander passed a screened Dekanich. Holt picked up his second point of the day with an assist on the goal. But once again, QU could not hold the lead and Colgate equalized once again.
Three minutes into the third period, Colgate took their first lead of the game. The Raiders capitalized once again on carelessness by the Bobcats when Tyler Burton picked up a loose puck that was lost behind Fisher’s net and fired it over the junior netminder’s shoulder for the lead.
But the Bobcats weren’t finished. After McIntyre took a penalty, Bryan Leitch pounced on a loose puck at the top of the right faceoff circle. The junior forward patiently moved the puck towards goal before unleashing a powerful wrist shot that beat Dekanich for his 12th goal on the year.
However the overtime would play out eerily similar to Friday night’s ending. A careless giveaway in the neutral zone was picked up by Tyler Burton who fed Peter Bogdanich who beat Fisher and put the game away.
The Bobcats will look to improve their playoff standing next weekend when they travel to northern New York to face off against St. Lawrence on Friday night and Saturday night the Bobcats visit Cheel Arena and the No. 10 ranked Clarkson Knights. After the weekend’s losses, the team realizes the importance of these two games.
“We have a good hockey team and its been a tough go of it but sooner or later we have got to right the ship,” Bates said. “We’re going in with nothing less than to sweep next weekend.”