Quinnipiac stuns No. 1 Cornell 5-0

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Quinnipiac stuns No. 1 Cornell 5-0

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Facing the No. 1 ranked Cornell Big Red after a brutal loss to Sacred Heart last weekend, it would have been easy for the Quinnipiac University men’s ice hockey team to have backed down from the challenge.

That, however, is not in Quinnipiac’s identity.

The Bobcats came out firing, potting three rapid-fire goals early and never let off the gas in a 5-0, statement win over the Big Red.

Highlights (Tom Krosnowski): 

Postgame Sound/Analysis (Steven Pappas): 

Flatley’s Focus: What’s behind the Bobcats’ turnaround? (Patrick Flatley):

There is something the Quinnipiac Men’s Ice Hockey team knows well, and that is getting up for big games at home. The idea of the top ranked team in the nation coming into their building does the opposite for Quinnipiac than the fear that might be expected. Over the past two seasons, the Bobcats have outscored the No. 1 team a combined 9-0 with five of those goals coming against Cornell tonight.

But how does this happen? What made the effort tonight night and day from last weekend’s disappointing Connecticut Ice tournament?

It was the little things. The things that might get overlooked by the casual hockey fan but are stressed immensely to players throughout the course of each game.

Cornell is a fast, skilled team, so Quinnipiac knew they had to come out flying to match that intensity. The Bobcats had the extra step and made sure they kept it the entire night, never letting Cornell get into the game.

“You could almost see it on their team. They didn’t know that feeling, having a bunch of goals scored on them just like that,” captain Nick Jermain said.

Jermain’s observation was right. With a record of 14-1-4 going into this matchup, this was the first time Cornell was down by more than one goal at any point all season.

The speed was also on display in the Bobcats forecheck. Not sitting back and waiting, but running an aggressive 1-2-2 forecheck on the rush, Quinnipiac suffocated Cornell early, trapping them in their defensive zone every time they tried to break out.

“That’s Quinnipiac hockey,” coach Rand Pecknold said. “We were relentless. We hunted.”

The Bobcats matched that speed with physicality. The first player on the forecheck went in hard, not only forcing that defenseman up the wall, but finishing his check to make sure that defenseman thinks twice the next time he goes back in the corner. That memory of getting hit right away last time will make him more likely to make a mistake later in the game by rushing or forcing a play expecting a hit to be coming.

Another little thing that goes unnoticed is the area 10 feet on each side of both blue lines. It is a preached strategy to never turn the puck over on either side, and the Bobcats executed.

“Everyone was chipping pucks out, doing the little things right which is something that we keened in on.” Jermain said.

Against Sacred Heart, this was the killer that prevented the Bobcats from hoisting that trophy. Tonight, Quinnipiac got back to the simple plays that great teams are built on – a simple, safe chip of the puck off the boards around the incoming forechecker is incredibly effective in any area of the rink, and necessary in that zone by the blue lines. If you get the puck near in that area, that means the flow of the play is waiting for you to make something happen. Turning the puck over in this scenario means the opposition will almost always have an odd man rush headed toward your net as your teammates are all going full speed going the other way. A light chip that lands right where your teammate will skate into is much harder to defend than you might think – just ask the Cornell defensemen.

Pecknold has already stressed the importance of coming back to earth after a win of this magnitude.

“We’re coming of this win, feeling good about ourselves, [but we have to] buckle up for tomorrow night,” Pecknold said. “We’’ll see what we got tomorrow night.”

The Bobcats look to continue to ride this momentum with another important win against Colgate at 7pm, again at the People’s United Center.