Saturday, March 11, 2017

Martin, Whelan help push Quinnipiac to decisive Game 3

With the Quinnipiac Bobcats season on the brink of extinction, Rand Pecknold's team responded with a huge gutsy 3-2 road win in Game 2 of the ECAC Quarterfinals before a crowd of 1,953 at Appleton Arena in Canton, N.Y. The win pushes the series to a winner take all Game 3 tomorrow night for a trip to Lake Placid and the ECAC Semifinals. After failing to score a goal in three games this season against St. Lawrence, the Bobcats finally solved Kyle Hayton in goal. 
Craig Martin (photo by Craig Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)
A night after starting out the game in sluggish fashion it was the Bobcats who were the aggressor early in this game and they showed why they were the more desperate team. Just 16 seconds into the game Alex Whelan took the puck and swung around the St. Lawrence net where he wristed one home past Hayton. Craig Martin and Tim Clifton picked up the assists on the goal for the Bobcats. It was exactly the start that Quinnipiac needed to silence the Appleton Arena crowd early. The teams played very chippy in the early going with St. Lawrence taking the first three penalties of the game. Quinnipiac had avoid disaster on multiple breakaway chances by the Saints who could not convert. It was not until the Bobcats were on the power play led to some miscommunication enabling a two on none breakaway chance for St. Lawrence which Mike Marnell converted a shorthanded goal after Shortridge made the initial save. Less than two minutes after the St. Lawrence goal the Bobcats found themselves right back on the power play. This time they converted on the Saints talented penalty kill unit when Craig Martin's ripped a hard wrist shot from the top of the left circle past Hayton for the goal to give the Bobcats the lead. Quinnipiac in the second half the period had to kill of back to back to back St. Lawrence power plays with one of them being a 5 on 3 for a short time. 

The chippy play continued into the middle period as St. Lawrence took three more penalties giving the Bobcats more power play opportunities which they couldn't convert on. With under eight minutes to play Alex Whelan showed why he has been one of the most improved Bobcats this season when he raced into the zone with the puck and skating around the net to shooting one in the slot on Hayton before Craig Martin cleaned up the rebound in front of a boatload of traffic. Quinnipiac continued to play strong defense in the later stages of the second period preserving the 3-1 lead going into the final period. 
Alex Whelan (photo by Jenn Hoffman/Pucks & Rec)
Twenty minutes separated Quinnipiac from booking a Game 3 date with St. Lawrence on Sunday night. The Bobcats played strong hockey the first two periods out shooting St. Lawrence 23-13. With their backs against the wall as they trailed 3-1, St. Lawrence came out strong in the third period putting twenty shots on net to the Bobcats five who didn't seem as aggressive as they were in the other two periods. Four minutes into the period Andrew Shortridge make another huge save on a breakaway to preserve the two goal lead. Quinnipiac had to fight off three St. Lawrence power plays throughout the period with one of them late in the game right as the Saints tied the game on a Michael Ederer goal after a scrum in front of Shortridge. With less than five minutes to play and St. Lawrence on the power play, Quinnipiac's defense and Andrew Shortridge came up huge as they were able to kill the penalty off without any damage done. St. Lawrence pulled Hayton in the final minute of the game but Bobcats held strong and forced a winner take all game tomorrow night. 

Quinnipiac was much better tonight causing traffic in front of Hayton and making him work hard to make saves. They will need that type of effort again tomorrow night. Andrew Shortridge made 31 saves for the Bobcats and was strong in goal all night and was one of the big reasons why this series is going to a Game 3. The two teams will meet again at Appleton Arena tomorrow night at 7 p.m. for the right to go to Lake Placid.

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

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