No. 5 Men’s Ice Hockey Beats Yale 4-1, Earns Top Spot in ECAC Hockey Playoffs

Will Fowler

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Photo: Liz Flynn

On a night that began with the Yale ice hockey team honoring their seniors, it was Quinnipiac, their cross-town rivals, who was celebrating by the end.

A physical and emotional battle that saw penalties left and right finished as a 4-1 win for Quinnipiac (25-7-2, 14-6-2 ECAC Hockey) over Yale (13-13-3, 11-10-1 ECAC Hockey) – a win that gave the Bobcats a season sweep over the Bulldogs, a share of the Cleary Cup, and the No. 1 seed in the ECAC Hockey playoffs.

“We didn’t really know what was going on, and then [coach Bill Rega] was like, ‘We got it,” and everybody was just freaking out,” said Nick Jermain on clinching the top seed. “It was just an awesome feeling, still being on the ice and being able to celebrate with everyone.”

As has been typical for the Bobcats this season, the team wasted no time getting on the board early. After Scott Davidson and Chandler Lindstrand were handed the first of many penalties on the evening, Bobcats forward Ethan de Jong took advantage of the open 4-on-4 ice, fought off a defender, and slotted the puck into the top right.

The Bobcats took the one goal lead into the locker room for the first intermission, but the second period was when things began to get emotional. The bad blood between these two sides is well documented, and after a game in Hamden that went without much flare, it seemed the two sides waited for the regular season finale in New Haven to let out the animosity.

Nick Jermain lit the lamp early, but the anger began seven minutes into the period when Evan Smith was given two minutes for slashing, but the big blow came two and a half minutes later when a Quinnipiac player skated up to a Yale defenseman and kicked him while on the ground, drawing blood and sending the defenseman to the locker room.

That player was senior captain Chase Priskie.

Priskie, who was originally sent to the penalty box, was ejected. His skate from the box to the locker room was a shower of boos and heckles from the Yale faithful, and his frustration culminated with him slamming his stick on the edge of the wall, snapping it in two.

“We didn’t really know if he was going to get kicked out or not, but before the decision was made, [Pecknold] said, ‘Whatever way it goes, we just have to be ready to face it and tackle it.’ Once he went out, a couple guys had to step up in his spot, and I think the guys who did did really well,” said Jermain.

Quinnipiac, now ahead 2-0, was given the task of killing a five-minute Yale penalty.

They did.

“We killed that five-minute penalty, which was huge,” said alternate captain Scott Davidson. “I think everyone just buckled down and we moved past it. That was that.”

Amidst another 12 minutes of combined PIMs in just the back half of the second period alone, the Bobcats scored twice more, giving them a 4-0 lead into the second break. In the third, tensions didn’t cease.

Halfway through the final twenty, it was Luke Shiplo and Yale captain Anthony Walsh who had to be whistled apart by the referees. Both of them were handed ejections.

Later in the period, Karlis Cukste and Dante Palecco were handed 10-minute misconduct penalties. Both of them were handed ejections as well.

In total, there were 21 penalties and 91 PIMs handed out.

In one game.

“Every time we play Yale, it’s just a battle,” said Jermain. “Tempers flared a little bit, but I thought we kept it under control for most of it. It’s a passionate game, a passionate rivalry, and we love coming out on top.”

Yale netted a late goal thanks to Ted Hart, but that was all they would get. The night ended with Quinnipiac earning the top seed in the ECAC Hockey playoffs at the hands of Yale – but it did not come without a price.

Regardless, the Bobcats earned themselves a first round bye, something that could be to the benefit to everyone in the locker room.

“We have a couple guys who could use a week off – I mean, everyone can this time of year,” said Jermain. “It’s going to be a big advantage for us to rest up and lick our wounds and then be ready to attack the rest of the season.”

The Bobcats will likely head into game one of the playoffs without Priskie, their captain and senior leader. Depending on the verdict of the league office, they could be without him for the entire series.

That’s all up to speculation, but what isn’t is the fact that the Bobcats will get their playoff series at home. A series win would earn them a trip to Lake Placid for the ECAC Hockey semifinals and championship. The Bobcats’ quarterfinal opponent will be decided after all of the first round matchups conclude, but what is already known is that puck drop for game one is Friday, March 15 at 7 p.m.