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Men’s ice hockey drops game 1 to Cornell
Game 2 set for 7 p.m. on Saturday
Quinnipiac dominated the ECAC this season and earned its first Cleary Cup on its way to a No. 1 national ranking. But after earning a first-round bye of the ECAC tournament, No. 9 seed Cornell took advantage of Quinnipiac’s time off the ice and handed the Bobcats a 3-2 loss in the first game of the ECAC Tournament quarterfinals.
“Certainly we’re disappointed to lose,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I thought we played well enough to win but we’ve been winning games like that all year long. We had plenty of scoring chances, we need to do a better job of finishing.”
The Big Red seized their opportunity in the second period, putting three goals past Quinnipiac goalie and Hobey Baker candidate Eric Hartzell. First, as the Bobcats started the period on the penalty kill, Brian Ferlin found the back of the net as Cornell’s point leader Greg Miller hit him in the slot as he tied the game at 1.
Then, after the Bobcats retook the lead, Madison Dias found himself alone with Hartzell after the puck took a strange bounce off the zamboni doors. Dias beat Hartzell under his pads to tie the game back up at 2, 5:34 into the second. Later in the period, senior forward Clay Harvey was called for a delay of game penalty as he was caught without a stick and dove on the puck along the sideboards. Cornell scored within the first 15 seconds of the penalty as Ferlin picked up his second goal of the game sending a rebound home for the 3-2 lead.
In the third period, the Bobcats looked like their normal self and dominated time of attack. They outshot the Big Red 15-4, but Cornell goalie Andy Iles made all 15 saves in the period to put his team one win away from advancing to the semifinals. The Bobcats attempted 35 shots in the period, one more than Cornell tried for all game.
Iles finished the game with 33 saves on 35 shots faced. He now has a 7-1-1 record over his last nine games along with a 1.55 goals against average and .946 save percentage during that span.
“To me, we lost this game tonight because Andy Iles was excellent,” Pecknold said. “I thought he was the best player on the ice. That’s what happens in the game of hockey when a goalie gets hot he can win games for his team and he was great.”
Quinnipiac will host Cornell in Game 2 on Saturday night at the High Point Solutions Arena at TD Bank Sports Center. If the Bobcats lose, they will be eliminated from the ECAC tournament which would be the first time in the history of the program that they have not won at least one series.
The Bobcats came into the game with the top power kill unit in the nation, having a success rate of 91.7 percent. In the first two meetings between the teams, which Quinnipiac won 4-1 in both games, Cornell was 0 for 8 on the power play. Today, it was 2 for 3.
“I thought we played our game and came out hard and pressured them well and they just capitalized on the power plays,” Quinnipiac forward Matthew Peca said. “I think we took some stupid penalties and ultimately that was the difference.”
Peca, who assisted on both Bobcat goals, thought they could have done a better job with shot placement.
“He’s (Iles) a small goalie and he challenges really well so you got to elevate the puck or you’ve got to get him moving,” Peca said. “I think today we made his job pretty easy. We shot low a lot, went low post and tried to jam it a lot and I think to be successful against a small quick goalie like that you’ve got to elevate the puck and I think that’s our focus on him from now on out.”
Peca’s first assist came on the power play early in the first period. He found Connor Jones wide open in the slot to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead on their 100th goal of the year, 5:48 into the game. Jones appeared to be looking to pass on the score but the puck hit off a Cornell skate and found its way into the net.
The second assist was on a Kellen Jones score, again coming in the slot.
“The second one was just a great pass by Loren [Barron], he found me in the slot,” Peca said. “I don’t know how I got open like that but I don’t know how Kellen got open like that either. Saw him, he called for it and flipped it over to him.”
Peca’s line with the Jones twins has had extreme success of the past two seasons and seemed to take it to a new level in the playoffs. The two scores were the 11th and 12th goal that the line has been involved with in the teams last seven ECAC tournament games. Only four goals during that span have not included a point from either Peca or the Joneses.
Hartzell will look to bounce back tomorrow night as he saved just 17 of 20 shots tonight. It was just the second time in the last 17 games that Hartzell has allowed three or more goals and fifth time in 34 games this season.