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Bobcats clinch Cleary Cup, despite 2-1 loss to St. Lawrence
By Ben Dias, QBSN Staff Writer
21 games and a little over three months. That is how long the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey unbeaten streak lasted. The Bobcats had not lost since Nov. 6 until tonight.
Despite the loss, Quinnipiac clinched the Cleary Cup for its first ECAC Hockey regular-season title since joining the league in 2005-06, as second-place Yale lost to Union, 4-2, in Schenectady, N.Y. The Bobcats will be the top seed in the ECAC Hockey tournament, with a bye in the first round, and will host a best-of-three quarterfinals series on Mar. 15-17.
Quinnipiac (21-4-4, 14-1-2 ECAC) is handed its first ECAC loss of the season.
“It was a fun ride but it’s just one loss,” senior captain Zack Currie (Victoria, British Columbia) said describing the streak. “We’re still good,” Currie said with a smile.
Greg Carey led St. Lawrence (14-11-4, 7-6-4 ECAC) with two goals, good for his NCAA Division 1 and ECAC leading 21st and 22nd goals of the season and 43rd and 44th point of the season, also best in the country. He added the game-winner less than three minutes into the third period.
The Saints scored just 4:37 into the game, when Kyle Flanagan fired a shot from the point and the rebound jumped out to George Hughes on the left side. Hughes then fed a pass through the slot to Carey near the right post and he one-timed a shot past goalie Eric Hartzell (White Bear Lake, Minn.) glove side for a 1-0 lead.
After Ben Arnt, (Oakdale, Minn.) was hit with a five minute major and a game misconduct for contact to head after he crushed SLU’s Matt Dyer as he entered the zone, the Bobcats found some energy.
Bryce Van Brabant (Morinville, Alberta) sent a pass through the neutral zone to Jordan Samuels-Thomas (Windsor, Conn.) who charged down the ice on a 3-on-2 and chipped the puck past a SLU defender. With a great individual effort and some nice stick handling skated around his defender and lifted a shot through Weninger to tie the score at 1-1.
Carey, did the damage yet again just 2:30 into the third period when he scored the game winning goal. He corralled the puck near the far side corner and skated in on Hartzell. Carey roofed a shot from an odd angle and found the back of the net for the 2-1 lead.
The Bobcats had a flurry of chances in the final frame but could not capitalize. Kellen Jones (Montrose, B.C.) had an opportunity down the wing and tried to stick handle but could not get a shot off. Russell Goodman (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) had a chance alone in space on the left wing but wristed a shot right into Weninger’s chest. Jones had another try this time with 5:55 left when he sent a one-timer from about five feet but the shot deflected over Weninger and to the boards.
“We were throwing everything we could at them, just desperation and obviously we were tied,” Currie said. “We should have done that earlier and not let it get to that point.”
Hartzell stopped 12-of-14 shots, while Weninger made 31 saves.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Matt Weninger, he was the best player on the ice tonight and that it was hockey is all about,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “Goalies can win hockey games and steal hockey games and he was a big part of it.”
The Bobcats tried one last effort to rally with an empty net with under a minute to go but St. Lawrence prevailed.
Both Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence were 0-for-5 on the power-play.
“We got great players and they’re great but they get on the power play and then they struggle,” Pecknold said. “We just made bad decisions and had a lack of urgency.”
Quinnipiac held a 32-14 shot advantage.
“We need to finish,” Pecknold said. “We had empty nets and all these chances and it just would not go in there for us. It was just one of those nights.”
The Bobcats will have to regroup when they face Clarkson tomorrow night at the High Point Solutions Arena. Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m.