Whelan, Quinnipiac defeat Brown 6-1 in game one of ECAC opening round

Kriby Paulson

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Photo: Sam Bashaw

Photo: Sam Bashaw

I first met Alex Whelan last summer while writing a piece on Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie getting drafted by the Washington Capitals. I immediately noticed two things: the kid was built like a six-foot tree trunk and he couldn’t stop smiling.

Friday night, Whelan showed off both of those observations in the first 30 seconds of the game when he used his “bowling-ball” like frame to make his way to the front of the net where he struck for the Bobcats’ first goal of the game and followed it up about two seconds later with that infamous Whelan smile as he celebrated the goal with his line-mates.

“Whelan can really fly out there,” Tim Clifton said with a smile and a chuckle post game. “It’s fun playing with a guy like that. He definitely wins a lot of races, his face-off intensity is great, he does the right things. So, for me and Marty to be playing with a freshman who does those things, it’s pretty cool.”

Quinnipiac followed up Whelan’s goal with five more goals as it took control of the opening round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs 1-0, beating Brown University, 6-1.

“It was really good,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I thought Timmy, Marty, and Alex had good jump and we were fortunate to get a nice early lead.”

The Bobcats pushed their lead to two when they took advantage of a three-on-two rush into the offensive zone. Luke Shiplo played the puck over to Tanner MacMaster, who found Landon Smith rushing down the left side to the right of Brown’s goalie Gavin Nieto.

Smith gained speed into the zone and sniped one, tucking it right inside the far post for his tenth goal of the season, giving Quinnipiac the 2-0 lead.

The Bobcats used another odd-man rush to push their lead to three halfway through the second period. Craig Martin pushed the puck up ahead in the neutral zpme to the stick of Whelan, giving Quinnipiac a two-on-one opportunity. Whelan played the puck to Tim Clifton, who buried the puck in the back of the net for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.

The icing on the cake for Quinnipiac came on the power play early in the third and final period. Thomas Aldworth contained a pass from K.J. Tiefenwerth and put a Brown defender in fits, going from his forehand to his backhand to get past the defender and score his eighth of the season.

“We want to score goals, whether it’s two guys, three guys, or six guys,” Pecknold said.

Less than four minutes later, Connor Clifton broke up a pass in the defensive zone and played it to Smith who picked up speed in the neutral zone. Smith head-faked the shot when he got down to the offensive zone face-off circle and played it across the crease to find Clifton, who got his fifth goal of the season, pushing the Bobcats’ lead to five.

The Bobcats continued the outpouring of goals when K.J. Tiefenwerth found his stick to the right of Nieto at the goal-line. Tiefenwerth struck and snuck one past Nieto notching his third goal of the season and giving Quinnipiac a 6-1 lead

Brown’s lone attempt at a comeback came with a little over five minutes to play when a scrum out in front and a shot from Charlie Corcoran snuck out from Quinnipiac goalie Andrew Shortridge’s grasp, allowing teammate Max Willman to stuff home to rebound and make it 6-1.

Whelan along with the Bobcats will return to the ice tomorrow night as they look to close out their series with the Bears.

“I think my role is just to provide energy while on the ice, to be able to pick my team up whenever I can,” Whelan said. “I am playing with two great linemates so it’s easy for us. They will try to get me the puck and I just try to score whenever it’s possible.”

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Whelan, Quinnipiac defeat Brown 6-1 in game one of ECAC opening round