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Quinnipiac moves past Yale, prepares for playoffs
With the chant of “I believe that we will win” echoing through the rafters as the puck dropped, the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team was graced with a rare sold-out crowd.
But the crowd was a familiar one for the Quinnipiac vs. Yale rivalry in the 10th anniversary of the Heroes Hat trophy.
Unfortunately for the Bobcat faithful, Quinnipiac couldn’t fulfill the crowds beliefs and ended the game in a 2-2 tie, as Yale was able to retain the Heroes Hat.
The Bobcats did get a point with the win, which clinched the No. 5 seed in the ECAC Hockey tournament. They will host No. 12 Brown next weekend in a three-game series.
If Quinnipiac had come out with a win, they would have clinched the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye.
“I knew in overtime that we needed to win to get the bye,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I did put a lot of thought into it but as much as we wanted the bye, I don’t think it’s fair to our fans to give up an empty net goal. We’re certainly not ecstatic on tying tonight but it’s better than losing on an empty netter.”
Last year, when Quinnipiac faced Rensselaer in the last game of the regular season, RPI needed two points to seal a first round bye. Tied in overtime with Quinnipiac, RPI pulled their goalie to try and get the extra point but the game resulted in a tie. If Quinnipiac had scored, RPI would not have made it to the NCAA tournament.
Freshman forward Matthew Peca believes the first-round bye isn’t essential to success in the tournament.
“If you make it out of the first round, you’ve been on the ice (more) compared to some other teams and sometimes you get a little bit more jump compared to them,” Peca said. “We’re excited and not going to dwell on the fact that we didn’t get a top four spot and going to prepare like we do every other weekend.”
Quinnipiac tied Brown (8-16-5, 5-13-4) earlier this year on the road and defeated them at home on Friday, 4-1. Last year in the ECAC tournament, the Bobcats swept the Bears on consecutive 4-0 victories at home in the first round of the tournament.
“Well obviously we’re confident against them,” Peca said. “We know how to prepare to play against them.”
Despite the tie, Quinnipiac ends the season with a 3-1-1 record over the last five games, with tremendous success on the power play.
After three power-play goals on Friday, Quinnipiac continued playing well on special teams with both goals tonight coming on the man advantage.
“Power play was great. You score three one night, two the next,” Peca said. “From a productivity offensive standpoint, it was excellent.”
The Bobcats converted 20.1 percent of their power-play chances on the season but they converted 45 percent this weekend going 5 for 11 on the man advantage.
Quinnipiac will also head into the playoffs with one of the hottest lines in the country. The line that features the Jones twins accompanied by Peca played exceptional this weekend.
“I thought me and the twins had some great chemistry, we played well this weekend,” Peca said. “All three of us had our legs and I think we built off each others energy and played real well.
Peca assisted on all six goals that Quinnipiac scored this weekend. Kellen added two goals and three assists, while twin Connor Jones chipped in two goals and two assists.
Quinnipiac will play next on Friday in the first round of the ECAC tournament against Brown. Although they didn’t get a victory tonight, the sold-out crowd boosted the players’ morale and would help them in the playoffs.
“It’s unbelievable,” Connor Jones said. “Fans were great tonight, they were chanting and everything and those clap things. It’s definitely fun to play in front of that kind of atmosphere. You get that extra energy from the crowd.”