Quinnipiac men’s hockey earns first ECAC win in 5-0 shutout of Brown

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn/Quinnipiac Bobcats Sports Network

By: M.J. Baird 

If you had asked Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey head coach Rand Pecknold in late October what he would say if he knew it would take his team five conference games before it picked up its first two points, his response would have been quite simple.

“I would have said I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Pecknold said. “But obviously it did.”

On Friday the Bobcats earned their first points of the year in a 5-0 win over the Brown Bears at the Frank Perrotti Jr. Arena.

In a season where the team was picked second overall in the preseason coaches poll, returned eight of its top ten point getters from a season ago and posses a valuable experience in the defensive core, two weekends into the ECAC season and no points to show for it was far from the expectation.

However 0-4-0 was the Bobcats’ record coming into Friday’s contest, and zero points placed Quinnipiac last in the conference standings.

            ECAC Standings prior to 11/17/17 

“Our guys aren’t used to that,” Pecknold said. “Two years ago we lost four games in an entire season. It’s just new territory for our juniors and seniors and we need to deal with it and move on and become a better team every day.”

The Bobcats have permanently replaced the zero in the win column, and shaken the proverbial monkey off their backs.

“I thought we played hard and competed and did the little things well,” Pecknold said. “The power play was effective, penalty kill was really good, (Andrew Shortridge) was good in net and it was a good win all around.”

Quinnipiac senior Landon Smith led the charge against Brown, recording a natural hat trick with the first three goals of the game and adding an assist on the fourth Bobcat goal.

“I’m playing with good players, and sometimes the puck goes in sometimes it doesn’t,” Smith said. “Tonight was the night that it went in.”

Earlier this year Pecknold said that he thinks his team usually hits its stride around mid-November.

But based on the Bobcats’ performances to date they have merely taken a stride in the right direction, not proven yet that they have hit their stride.

The questions that surround this team remain plentiful.

Who is the most reliable offensive weapon for the Bobcats, and do they even have one? When is a defense that features all six players with division I experience and two Bobcats’ captains going to straighten things out and limit opponents’ odd-man rushes and prime offensive opportunities? Why is a goaltending duo that features Quinnipiac’s most highly touted freshman in Keith Petruzzelli and proven sophomore Andrew Shortridge struggling to limit opponents in goals scored?

Granted, all of that was taken care of on Friday. But that is just one game. It doesn’t mean all the Bobcat’s problems are magically solved.

The comfortable win was certainly what Quinnipiac needed; a potent offense up front and a shutout on the defensive end gave the team confidence moving forward. Getting a win under your belt on home ice the day before the biggest rivalry game of the year won’t go under the radar either.

“We need to play to our identity, and we did that today,” Pecknold said. “This was one of our better games of the year.”

However the Bobcats dug themselves into a hole to start the ECAC season and although this win over Brown is the start to getting out of it, things aren’t just going to be handed to them.

Quinnipiac hosts Yale Saturday, then has non-conference play next weekend before getting back to the ECAC slate with a weekday game the Tuesday after Thanksgiving on the road at Princeton.

Even if Quinnipiac wins its next 17 conference games, it would finish with a record of 18-5-0. That includes nine of those games on the road, and six against teams currently ranked in the USCHO Top 20.

But Quinnipiac has never won 18 games in ECAC play, the closest it has come was 17 conference wins in 2012-13. On top of that, the Bobcats haven’t won more than six games in a row without a loss or a tie since that same season five years ago.

Crazier things have happened in sports, but the chances the Bobcats’ run the table is slim to none.

That being said, the good news for Bobcats’ fans is that they don’t need to win out.

Quinnipiac just needs to play consistently good hockey and win games to chip away at the uphill deficit that it faces.

After the slate of conference games on Friday, Quinnipiac has already moved up one spot from 12th to 11th in the ECAC standings. A win on Saturday against Yale will only move Quinnipiac up further.

            Year to date ECAC standings

Yet Saturday’s highly anticipated game against Yale is more important than simply the battle of Whitney Ave.

One quick way towards finding the path to success is a weekend sweep at home, and that only becomes sweeter with a win over an in-state rival.

Puck drop between the Bobcats and the Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *