Bobcats Roar Into Postseason, Defeat St. Lawrence 4-1 in Game 1 of the ECAC Quarterfinals


Photo: Alex Wanatick

Jake Zaretsky

Despite their 29-5-3 record in the regular season, the Quinnipiac Bobcats know that when the playoffs start none of the numbers matter anymore. They either win and move on, or lose and their season is over. That mindset came into fruition on Friday night, as the Bobcats convincingly defeated St. Lawrence 4-1. 

Both teams started off tentative and reckless, as the two sides found themselves both shorthanded just 1:21 into the contest. Despite the disruptive start, it was Griffin Mendel who found twine at 4:37 of the first period to give Quinnipiac a 1-0 lead. It was an unusual goal for the graduate student from Kelowna, British Columbia, as he found himself barreling to the goal mouth to finish off a rebound generated by forward Joey Cipollone. Despite the goal against, St. Lawrence did a nice job shutting down Quinnipiac in the first period, as goaltender Emil Zetterquist did not have to face a single shot in the last 6:14 of the opening frame. 

The defensive effort by St. Lawrence did not continue into the second period. Nine straight shot attempts by the Bobcats to open the period led to a goal scored by forward Ty Smilanic to make it 2-0. The goal was assisted by senior forward Desi Burgart, who won the faceoff back directly to Smilanic who normally doesn’t score directly off of a draw. 

“My line doesn’t really run that play too often,” Smilanic said with a laugh. “(Burgart) won it perfectly and then scoring off of it means we’re going to do that play more often.” 

The Bobcats continued their aggressive play in the second period, as they went 8-for-8 at the faceoff circle through the first seven minutes. Quinnipiac defenseman Brendan Less was penalized at 7:46 for hitting from behind, which led to a shot blocking masterclass by the Bobcats’ penalty killing unit. Four combined blocked shots and a little help from the crossbar helped them kill their second and final penalty of the night. 

An eventful second period continued with just 30 seconds before the horn when Bobcats senior Michael Lombardi deflected the puck into the net to make it 3-0. A beautiful bank pass by Jayden Lee set up Zach Metsa for a point shot that was tipped into the goal by Lombardi’s active stick in front of the net. 

Shortly after, the Saints were short handed again with seven seconds remaining in the period. Quinnipiac didn’t generate much on the power play in the game, going 0-for-2. Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold gave St. Lawrence head coach Brent Brekke credit for his team’s strong effort. 

“Brekke is a great coach, he does a nice job with that team,” Pecknold said. “It’s always hard to end somebody’s season and we’re going to have a tough time doing that tomorrow night.” 

Brekke and his team didn’t quit despite being down 3-0 in the final period, as Saints forward Jordan Steinmetz finished off a 3-on-2 rush to make it 3-1 with 10:08 to go in regulation. The Saints tried to generate some quality looks in the offensive zone, but strong efforts from the usual suspects in Metsa and goalie Yaniv Perets stood up to the task to ward off any threats. With just under three minutes to go in the contest, Mendel added his second goal of the night on an empty-net goal to make it 4-1 Quinnipiac. Mendel, who recorded his first multi-goal game of his career, enjoyed the fact that he was able to contribute for his club in a big way. 

“It’s nice I usually don’t get many points so it’s always nice putting them up on the board,” Mendel said.

A 4-1 victory gives Quinnipiac a 1-0 lead in the ECAC Quarterfinals, which sets up a pivotal Game 2 Saturday night at the People’s United Center. The Bobcats will look to build off of their effort in Friday’s game to advance to the Semifinals, while St. Lawrence will try and keep its season alive in a win or go home matchup.