Following ECAC Hockey final loss, Bobcats look for answers as NCAA tournament looms


Photo: Liz Flynn

Sergio De La Espriella

March. A time for new beginnings, warmer weather, and unexpected results in collegiate sports.

Unfortunately for the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team, the Bobcats were on the losing end of an unexpected result in their ECAC Hockey tournament final matchup against St. Lawrence.

The 3-2 overtime loss was a shock to the casual college hockey viewer.

The Bobcats came into this matchup with a 17-6-4 record, compared to the Saints’ 5-8-3 record. A quick look at their records would indicate a comfortable Bobcats victory, especially given that St. Lawrence played in nine fewer games than Quinnipiac did.

Due to the large amount of ECAC Hockey teams that opted out of the season, conference opponents played each other more often than they would during a typical year. In total, the Bobcats and Saints met on the ice seven times this season, a contributing factor to the Saints’ Whitelaw Cup victory.

For the Saints, this marks their first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2007.

“I think it’s the belief in themselves and the guys next to them,” St. Lawrence head coach Brent Brekke said. “It could be easy to go through the motions. They wanted success. The goal is always to win a championship. We have a competitive group. We’re gonna be the best group we can be for each other.”

Despite falling flat in the ECAC Hockey tournament final, the Bobcats’ season might not be over. The NCAA selection committee will determine the ten at-large bids for the tournament Sunday night, and the Bobcats are still expected to be selected.

“I think we deserve to be in. We’ll see what the selection show says tomorrow night,” said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold. “What’s going to help us next week is reloading and establishing our culture. We have to go back to basics and focus on our identity.”

That identity seemed to be the missing piece according to Coach Pecknold.

The Saints seemed to be more physical, skated faster, and just flat out wanted it more than the Bobcats on Saturday afternoon.

“We stunk in the first period. That’s on me. I didn’t do a good enough job in our practices over the last 8-10 days,” said Pecknold.

It’ll be up to seniors like Odeen Tufto and Keith Petruzzelli to set the tone in practice next week, assuming that the Bobcats are selected to be in the 16-team NCAA tournament.

The Bobcats are going to have to take Ted Lasso’s advice and think like a goldfish. The faster they can move past this painful conference loss, the faster they can focus on sending out their seniors on a more positive note.

The NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey tournament begins on March 26, with the Frozen Four taking place on April 8 in Pittsburgh. The national championship will take place on April 10, also in Pittsburgh.