Friday, February 24, 2017

Quinnipiac edges Yale 3-2, retains Heroes Hat

For the 13th time in 15 years the Quinnipiac Bobcats Men's Ice Hockey team won the Heroes Hat as they defeated their rival Yale 3-2 before an energetic crowd of 3,695 at High Point Solutions Arena. Its the ninth time they have won the Heroes Hat over Yale. The other four times were against UConn. Coming into Friday night's game the Bobcats still had an outside chance at a first round bye with some help. Rand Pecknold's squad did their part but they didn't get the help from Dartmouth as they fell 5-4 in back and forth game against Saint Lawrence giving the Saints the final first round bye.

Andrew Shortridge (photo by Hans Pennik/Times Union)
Pecknold turned to freshman Andrew Shortridge who has played well of late for the Bobcats in goal. Quinnipiac got off to a fast start in this one when Yale's Chris Izmirlian took a foolish goaltender interference penalty just a 1:20 into the game. The Bobcats capitalize not even a minute later when Craig Martin took a Tim Clifton pass who wristed one past a screened Sam Tucker for the goal. It was Martin's ninth tally of the season while Brogan Rafferty picked up a secondary assist his team leading 21st. Three minutes later Quinnipac was right back on the power play due to a Dan O'Keefe hooking call and just a minute into the power play it was Bo Pieper who struck for the Bobcats again on the man advantage when he cleaned up a Thomas Aldworth shot that Tucker could not handle. Connor Clifton also picked up an assist on the goal. The Bobcats killed off two Yale power plays towards the later half of the first period. Landon Smith scored an unassisted goal with thirty seconds left in the period when he went top shelf past Tucker giving the Bobcats a 3-0 lead heading into the locker room. Quinnipiac out shot the Bulldogs 14-6 in the opening frame.

Yale trimmed the lead to two goals just 21 seconds into the second period when John Hayden was all alone in the slot and put it past Shortridge for his 19th goal of the season. Joe Snively and Frankie DiChiara picked up the assists. Both teams traded early power plays to no avail. Yale carried the play throughout the majority of the second period putting many quality chances on Shortridge but the freshman stood tall especially when he came up huge on a Joe Snively breakaway chance to keep the score 3-1 along with another massive save with just under five minutes to play in the period. With a just a minute and a half left, Yale's Evan Smith cut the lead to one on his fourth goal of the season on an assist from Andrew Gaus. The Bulldogs also hit iron with less than ten seconds to play in the period before the horn sounded. Yale only out shot Quinnipiac 9-8 that period but had more higher quality chances on goal.
Craig Martin (photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)
The third period brought a lot of back and forth play between the teams. Five minutes into the period, Shortridge made another big save on a Yale two on one opportunity. Quinnipiac had a golden chance to extend the lead in the third period when they had a 5 on 3 power play that was ended less than a minute later when Kārlis Čukste took a tripping call. The teams played at even strength pretty much the entire rest of the way outside of a Yale too many men on the ice call half way through the period. Shortridge was strong for the Bobcats in the final frame saving all six Yale shots to finish with 19 for the game. The Bobcats also blocked 19 shots and Tim Clifton was dominant in the face-off circle winning 20 of 23.

With the win the Bobcats clinched the 5th seed in the ECAC tournament and will have home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Its the first time since the 2011-2012 season that Quinnipiac will be playing on the opening weekend of the ECAC playoffs. The Bobcats return to the ice for senior night tomorrow when they take on the Brown Bears the team they will face in the first round of the ECAC tournament.

Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow him on Twitter @QHockeyBlog.

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