Quinnipiac falls to Harvard in semifinals 4-1, Malone scores hat trick

Kriby Paulson

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Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

Lake Placid, NY — After being defeated by Quinnipiac last season in the conference championship, the top-seeded Harvard Crimson were hungry for redemption.

On Friday evening, they got just that in the form of a 4-1 win over the Bobcats to secure a spot in the ECAC Hockey championship contest.

Crimson head coach Ted Donato was happy with the result, but mentioned Quinnipiac’s prestige as a program and their expectation of being a tough out.

“I think we’re very excited to move on,” Donato said. “We have a lot of respect, Quinnipiac has been as good a college hockey team as there is in the land over the last five or six years so we knew it was going to be a tough game and I think it was.”

Three of the four Harvard goals came from the stick of senior forward Sean Malone. Exactly 11 minutes into the second period, Malone received a pass from the corner in the right half of the slot. Wasting little time, Malone ripped the puck past Shortridge giving Harvard the initial lead.

Quinnipiac fired back just over five minutes later however when a Jake Horton hook gave the Bobcats their first man advantage opportunity of the game. While on the power play, a pass from the point found its way down to Thomas Aldworth who was stationed to the blocker side of Madsen. Aldworth then threw a shot on from the odd angle and watched as the puck somehow found its way across the goal line knotting things up at one a piece.

However, Harvard was able to add one more before the conclusion of the period. With just over a minute left, Malone received a puck off a rebound and immediately wristed one past Shortridge giving Harvard a 2-1 advantage heading into the third period.

Just a touch over four minutes into that closing frame, he struck again registering for the aforementioned hat trick. Corralling a pass from Luke Esposito, Malone then made a few stick handling moves before moving into the crease and tucking it past the left pad of Shortridge to secure his three goal night and add an insurance goal onto a growing Crimson lead.

Esposito would later score the empty net goal in the third period nailing the coffin shut for Harvard.

The Malone hat trick was the first in an ECAC Hockey tournament semifinal game since Todd White registered one in a 1997 5-1 Clarkson win over Princeton.

Malone admired the milestone, but placed the importance on the pending championship game to be played tomorrow.

“It’s pretty special,” Malone said. “Being a senior, it’s my first hat trick and you know it feels good to do it in a big game like this, and more importantly I’m just happy we got the win and you know, looking forward to tomorrow.”

Quinnipiac on the other hand struggled to keep sustained pressure and get shots to the net against the Harvard defense and goaltender Merrick Madsen.

In total, the Bobcats were only able to muster up 11 total shots through the first two periods of play. Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold credited the struggles to Harvard’s ability and a bit of panic in terms of the team’s possession.

“Harvard is the most talented team in the country,” Pecknold said. “They have the puck a lot and we just didn’t do a good enough job of separating them at times and I think when we had the puck we played with just a little bit, not a lot but a little bit of panic in our game.”

The loss marks the end of the Bobcats’ run in the postseason, but also that of the Quinnipiac careers of six accomplished senior players. The class allotted 102 wins over its four years including a Whitelaw Cup, two Cleary Cups and a Frozen Four appearance. Defenseman Derek Smith spoke of what the program and his fellow classmates have meant to him.

“It’s an absolute honor to play for this program,” Smith said. “I thought we had a pretty successful four years; 102 wins, a couple Cleary Cups; just the six guys this year and Sam [Anas], and Devon [Toews], and Brayden [Sherbinin] are just great character guys, love them to death, I’ll be close friends with them for the rest of my life.”

Harvard moves on to the ECAC championship game to take on the winner of the ongoing semifinal matchup between Union College and Cornell University. That contest will take place at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York at approximately 7:35 p.m.