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Bobcats’ season comes to close
The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team was unable to stave off elimination for a second night in a row Sunday, dropping the third game of a best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal series 3-1 to No. 3 seeded Harvard at Bright Hockey Center.
The Bobcats finish the season 20-15-4, the ninth time in ten seasons that they’ve won at least 20 games, but the Crimson is the team moving on to the ECAC Championships in Albany next weekend, where they will face No. 4 Cornell Friday night in the semifinals.
After 22 combined goals over the first two nights, Sunday’s game lacked the offensive firepower that both teams had displayed earlier in the series.
“Playing three games in three nights is tough. It’s tough for Harvard to and they came out with a lot of jam tonight,” captain Jamie Bates said. “From the second and third period on it was a dogfight.”
The Crimson took the lead on a shorthanded goal by Mike Taylor, his first of two tallies on the night, and that lead held into the first intermission. Harvard outshot the Bobcats 14-3 during the first stanza.
“The first period I thought was awful. We lacked energy and were tired. Harvard outplayed us,” head coach Rand Pecknold said.
Pecknold’s squad came out with a purpose in the second and tied the game when Bryan Leitch found the back of the net from a sharp angle to the left of Harvard netminder Kyle Richter.
After a high sticking penalty on Mike Atkinson, the Crimson regained the lead and the momentum on a power play goal by Doug Rogers just 37 seconds later.
The most controversial moment of the game came a little over four minutes into the third period. Andy Meyer skated the puck down the right side for the Bobcats and flipped a backhander towards the Crimson net. During a scramble in front, Bobcat players began celebrating a goal, but none of the three officials made the call and the red light never came on.
“I tried to put it up high and he was kind of falling backwards. I thought it bounced off him and came straight down and hopped over the goal line. A couple guys in front of the net like Ags (Mark Agnew) said it was over the line for sure,” Meyer said.
Pecknold said he did not receive an explanation from referee John Gravallese, but Jamie Bates skated onto the ice to talk to Gravallese after the play.
“He said neither of the three of them were in position to see it and the goal judge said it wasn’t in,” Bates said. “We had four guys on our team that were around the net that it was in. What are you gonna do?”
Taylor scored his second goal of the game off a rebound with 5:15 remaining in the third, sealing the Bobcats’ fate.
In a season filled with injuries, Pecknold said it finally caught up to his team.
“When you’ve got Matt Sorteberg, Jake Bauer and Mark Nelson, three of our top six D out of the lineup, we’ve had to deal with injuries all year,” he said. “Fisher’s been hurt the last month and a half of the season. To get 20 wins with the amount of injuries we had, I’m pretty happy with that.”
The loss ends the careers for Bates and fellow seniors Dan Travis, Ben Nelson, Dan Lefort, Dan Cullen and Mark Agnew. Matt Sorteberg may be eligible for a medical redshirt next season.
“It’s gonna be tough not lacing it up with the boys in that room again,” Bates said, fighting back tears. “I’m extremely proud of the guys. I think we came together as a team. We had a lot of adversity and we kept battling back. It was an honor to play with the guys.”