Bobcats continue first round success

By on March 6, 2012

Following a 2-1 series win by the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team over the Brown Bears last weekend, the Bobcats advance to the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals against No. 4 Colgate this weekend.

The matchup will also be a best-of-three series that will be played in Hamilton, N.Y.

The Bobcats, who entered the ECAC in 2005, have advanced out of the first round of the playoffs in each of their seven years in the conference.

The two teams met twice this year and split the season series.

Katie O'Brien

Quinnipiac freshman forward Matthew Peca currently rides a five-game point streak heading into the conference quarterfinals vs. Colgate. He recorded a point in 11 straight goals for the Bobcats at one point.

Colgate came out on top in the first game on Nov. 18, 3-1. Senior forward Austin Smith led the Raiders in that game with a hat trick. Smith leads the nation in goals this season with 34 and is third in points with 52. Smith, who is a prospect of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, is also a finalist for the Hobey Baker award, which is given to the top player in Division I hockey.

“Austin Smith is clearly one of the best college hockey players in the nation this year,” Colgate head coach Dan Vaughan said. “His skill set and statistics speak for themselves but like all great players he is more than just numbers. He plays the game with such passion and intensity but perhaps what separates him from the pack is his hockey sense.”

The second meeting between the teams on Jan. 18, in Hamden, Quinnipiac shut down one of the nation’s most dangerous players and held him to no points. Seven different Bobcats came up with goals on the night while Connor Jones picked up four assists.

The No. 5 Bobcats are fourth in the conference in goals per game at 3.14 while Colgate is third with 3.21. Quinnipiac has the third-best scoring defense in the conference at 2.14 while Colgate is eighth with 2.79.

Before getting the first round bye, Colgate dropped its final four games of the season after winning five of their previous six. The Raiders were outscored 14-8 during the losing streak and haven’t played since Feb. 25.

Quinnipiac headed into the playoffs with a 3-1-1 record over its final five games of the regular season, and outscored Brown 8-6 this weekend en route to advancing to the next round of the tournament.

Freshman Matthew Peca enters the game with a five-game point streak in which he totaled 11 points with one goal and 10 assists.

“It’s pretty impressive of an 18-year old to be this good and consistent,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “He’s been good all year, he’s had some ups and downs but he’s really trying to figure out the consistency part of it.”

Peca’s line, which features him and the Jones twins, has caught on fire at the end of the season. In the last eight games, the Jones-Peca line has been involved with 16 of the 26 goals and picked up a lot of weight from the loss of Jeremy Langlois, who missed four games before coming back in game 2 of the Brown series.

The teams match up evenly on the power play with the slight edge going to Quinnipiac. The Bobcats have converted on 38 of 118 chances on the year, which is good for 20.8 percent. Colgate heads into the series scoring on 33 of 165 man advantages for 20 percent on the season.

Quinnipiac is also the top team in the conference for penalty killing at 88.4 percent. Colgate is eighth in the conference with 78.8 percent of opponents’ power play chances being killed off.

Quinnipiac’s most successful season came in 2002 when they made it to the NCAA tournament after being crowned the MAAC champions. They will look to advance out of the ECAC semifinals for the first time since the 2006-2007 season when they lost in the ECAC championship game to Clarkson.

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About Joe Addonizio

Sports Editor
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Year: 2013
Major: Print journalism
Hometown: Southbury, Conn.
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