Quinnipiac men’s hockey faces ongoing struggles in the first period

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Carolyn Fales

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

It’s an ongoing problem. It may just be the Bobcats’ kryptonite. It’s the first period.

The Quinnipiac men’s hockey team struggled in both first periods of its games last weekend. But this issue isn’t new, it’s been consistent throughout the whole season, and could give the Bobcats serious trouble come playoffs.

For the season as a whole, Quinnipiac has out scored its opponents 26 -19 in the first period, but it isn’t doing so confidently.

When the puck drops in the first the Bobcats often look anxious and disorganized. The defense scrambles and there seems to be a lack of focus. This could be because of how young the team is according to senior captain Matthew Peca.

When Quinnipiac hosted St. Lawrence, Sean McGovern scored five minutes into the game. The defense broke down in front of the net and McGovern easily put one in past Garteig. The Saints got another chance minutes later, but fortunately for the Bobcats, the refs called it off.

“We didn’t sense any panic at all because we knew we weren’t playing well and its been a recurring thing that we haven’t been getting first periods” Peca said after the game.

The trend continued the next night against Clarkson. The Bobcats were out shot by the Golden Knights 12-7 in the first period. Again QU’s opponent was able to score in under the first ten minutes.

“I don’t get mad often at my guys…” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said, “I was furious with our first period effort, it was as disappointed as I’ve been all year with my team.” The Bobcats were able to come back to earn a commanding 4-1 win after their troubles in the first.

“It was a tough first period for us but we kind of hit the reset button and played a good last 40 minutes,” junior forward Travis St. Denis said.  Their record shows that the Bobcats are able to come back and capitalize in the last 40 minutes, but not playing the full 60 is going to hurt Quinnipiac come playoff time.

Coming out struggling in the first makes the Bobcats easy prey for their opponents. Strong teams will be able to put shots on goal and put an early dent in QU’s confidence. While Pecknold’s squad has shown they can overcome such a feat, it will become more difficult against the tougher teams that they will face in playoffs.

This week’s USCHO.com poll has the Bobcats ranked No. 11.The pairwise ranking has Quinnipiac in a three-way tie for tenth place with Boston College and Providence College.

A win or tie against Yale coupled with a St. Lawrence loss or tie against Harvard would give QU the Cleary cup.The Cleary cup is awarded to the ECAC team with the best overall record of the season.

The Bobcats have already clinched a first round bye in the ECAC tournament. But will they let the first period get in the way as they go into post-season play?

Quinnipiac hits the ice Friday at 7 p.m. to host Yale.