Let’s play seven: Quinnipiac meets St. Lawrence again for ECAC Hockey title


Photo: Liz Flynn

Jason Hirsch

372 days.

That’s how long it’s been since ECAC Hockey commissioner Steve Hagwell announced that the yearly tournament in Lake Placid, New York was going to be canceled due to COVID-19.

Now, just over a year later, the Quinnipiac Bobcats will have a chance to win their second ECAC Hockey tournament in school history when they take on the St. Lawrence Saints on Saturday in the Whitelaw Cup final at the Frank Perrotti Jr. Arena.

For the Bobcats, it has been five years since their infamous 2015-16 team won the only Whitelaw Cup thus far in program history before going on a run that ended with a loss against the North Dakota State Bison in the NCAA National Championship game in Tampa Bay, FL.

If the Bobcats want to win the ECAC Hockey title and play for a chance to win their maiden national championship next month at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, they will have to play with more consistency than they did two weeks ago in their regular season finale against the Colgate Raiders.

Despite outshooting the Raiders and doubling Colgate in faceoffs won, the Bobcats’ momentary lapses in concentration ended up being their undoing in the loss.

Heading into the matchup on Saturday, coach Rand Pecknold is looking for every player on the roster to buy in and commit to a full 60 minutes of concentration on the ice.

“We’ve got to find a way to be better,” Pecknold said following Quinnipiac’s loss to Colgate. “Otherwise, our season is going to be over pretty fast.”

For the Saints, it has been 20 years since their last ECAC Hockey title back in 2001, and 14 years since their last NCAA tournament appearance in 2007.

It took St. Lawrence everything they had to edge out Colgate 5-4 in overtime during Thursday night’s semi-final win.

Sophomore Cameron Buhl snuck a pass from Greg Lapointe off a Colgate turnover between the goaltender’s pads to set up a seventh meeting this season with the Bobcats. The Bobcats have won five of them, including four in a row.

Head coach Brent Brekke believes that familiarity with the Bobcats will give his players confidence to try and get his program to their first NCAA tournament in over a decade.

“Our last game we had a real good push against them midway through the game,” Brekke said. “I thought we played very well against them in the last game. We didn’t get the result, but we felt good against them. Our players know their tendencies. When you play a team that many times, you get to know them.”

With an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament on the line, the stakes will be as high as ever.

Will the top-seeded Bobcats put the finishing touches on their dominant season?

Or will the Saints continue to show the grit and determination that got them here and pull off an improbable victory against a team in Quinnipiac that seems to have their number.

Tune in here on Saturday at 4 p.m. EST to see who will take home the Whitelaw Cup.