HAMDEN, CT — Six unanswered goals helped propel the Quinnipiac University Bobcats to a 7-1 victory over the Brown Bears in the opening round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs Saturday night.
It’s the third time in the three year history of Quinnipiac in ECAC Hockey that they have swept their opening round series; they had previously swept RPI and Union the past two years.
“First off we’re very excited to move on,” said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold. “I thought our team played an excellent second and third period. The coach-ability was excellent tonight; we really bought into what we needed to be successful.”
Special teams were key for both squads in the first period; both scored power-play goals.
In Brown’s first man-advantage, Chad Timberlake ripped a shot off the post. Quinnipiac’s Bud Fisher also made a two-on-one glove save on Jeff Prough, giving the Bears momentum.
However, it was Quinnipiac who struck first, on their second power play. Deep in the corner, Bryan Leitch fed the puck to Greg Holt at the blue line and he ripped the shot. Jamie Bates in front of the net deflected home the shot for the lamp lighter.
It was the first time the Bobcats scored in the first period in the last four games.
Brown tied the score at one a piece with Ryan Garbutt’s power-play goal. Timberlake fed a pass to Garbutt on the backdoor of Fisher’s glove side. Garbutt put the puck flat and rifled a shot under the crossbar past Fisher at 17:24 of the first.
After scoring five goals in the second period in Friday night’s game, the Bobcats rattled off four second period goals.
Quinnipiac came out of the gates quickly with two scoring chances, but the Bears’ Dan Rosen kept the game tied.
Brandon Wong attempted a wraparound shot, but Rosen kept the five hole closed and covered the puck. Seconds later, Leitch ripped a shot as he came across the blue line and rang the puck off the right post.
The Bobcats found a way to get the puck past Rosen when Wong came in on a breakaway and wrested a shot under the blocker of Rosen. Zach Hansen sent a pass that sprung Wong on the breakaway.
Again on a power play, the Bobcats extended their lead with a Holt goal. Bates sent a pass off the boards to Holt at the blue line, and Holt ripped the shot through traffic and past Rosen for the two goal advantage at the 4:04 mark.
“I think as a team we really drove the net and worked on getting more shots to the net,” said Holt. “We got lucky and Bates made some nice plays and buried them. It was a good team effort.”
Wong recorded his second of the game when he redirected home a pass from Dan Travis. Holt wrapped the puck around the boards to Travis, who sent a pass to the crease and Wong banged home the puck.
Mark Sibbald replaced Rosen after the goal, for the second time in as many games in the series.
Dan Lefort joined the score sheet with his third goal of the season. Coming off the bench on a change, Lefort received a pass from Andrew Meyer and ripped a shot that trickled thought the five hole of Sibbald with just under six minutes remaining.
“We did a lot of little things well, supporting the puck, back checking,” said Pecknold. “The coach-ability was the big thing and buying into our system.”
Quinnipiac got their third power-play goal of the game at 5:20 of the third period with Holt and Bates hooking up again. Holt ripped a shot from the point that Sibbald saved, but Bates found the loose puck and twinkled the twine. Ben Nelson also recorded an assist on the goal.
On a three-on-two, Dan Travis received a drop pass from Wong and rifled the puck past Sibbald with 7:17 remaining.
Holt’s goal and three helpers were career highs in assists in a game and total points in a game.
In the two game series, the Bobcats scored 14 goals. In their previous six games, they only recorded nine goals.
The Bobcats will travel to either Harvard or Union for the quarterfinal round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs next weekend.