Saturday, March 4, 2017

Quinnipiac sweeps Brown out of ECAC playoffs

The number five seed Quinnipiac Bobcats swept the number twelve seed Brown Bears out of the ECAC playoffs on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 2,664 to close out High Point Solutions Arena for the season in style. Quinnipiac now heads to North Country to face off against the number four seed Saint Lawrence Saints in a best-of-three series at Appleton Arena beginning next Friday. The Bobcats have won an ECAC playoff series for the 12th consecutive season the longest such mark in the league. The senior class also won its 100th game for their career which marks the second consecutive Quinnipiac senior class to accomplish that feat.
Five different Bobcats scored goals tonight in the convincing series clinching win. The hottest Bobcat forward got the guys in gold going just a little over four minutes into the game when Landon Smith took a Tanner MacMaster pass into the high slot and snapped a high wrist shot past Gavin Nieto. It was the 11th goal of the season for Smith and his 5th in the last six games. He has recorded points in his last six games and nine out his last ten. Three minutes later after a hooking call on Brown's Max Gottlieb, Tanner MacMaster wristed one home through traffic with screen help from Kevin Duane and Thomas Aldworth. Luke Shiplo and Aldworth both picked up assists on the MacMaster goal. Andrew Shortridge was rarely tested in the first period as Quinnipiac out shot Brown 22-5.

Brown cut the lead in half 15 minutes into the middle frame on Sam Lafferty's 13th goal of the season. It was an immediate response from Quinnipiac just under two minutes later when Tommy Schutt potted his sixth of year on a redirect from Aldworth who put the puck in front of the net. The Bobcats caught a huge break with five seconds left in the period as it looked as if Brown was going to cut the lead again and take momentum into the locker room but Zach Giuttari's goal was waved off for a high stick. 
In the third period the captain Connor Clifton extended the Bobcat lead to 4-1 as he scored on a cross ice pass from MacMaster while skating into the lower left circle and wristed one past Nieto. It was sixth of the season for Clifton and the assist gave MacMaster a three point night. Bo Pieper scored an empty net with a little more than two and half minutes remaining sealing the series win for the Bobcats. Quinnipiac out shot Brown 47-25 while Andrew Shortridge was strong in net making 23 saves for his first career series win. 

Quinnipiac will head north next week with a trip to Lake Placid on the line when they face off against Saint Lawrence. The Bobcats lost 2-0 up in Canton, New York back in November and tied the Saints in the Friendship Four tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the end of November. This should be a fantastic series with Quinnipiac riding a wave of momentum up north while Saint Lawrence slumped to end the regular season losing four out of their last six games.

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

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