Unfazed by deficit, Quinnipiac answers coach’s motivational message

Quinnipiac may have been in an unusual position Saturday evening — trailing — in the NCAA East Regional semifinals against Canisius but it was hardly an earth-shattering scenario for the NCAA’s top seed.

Not only had the Bobcats faced a third-period deficit eight times already this year (2-5-1 to show for it), but this wasn’t even Quinnipiac’s first humbling at the hands of an Atlantic Hockey foe. The Bobcats dropped a 4-0 decision at home to Robert Morris in October, and 2-1 to American International three weeks later.

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The AIC loss, on No. 6, wasn’t followed by another defeat until Feb. 15, 22 games later. So while a 3-1, third-period deficit against Canisius on Saturday was a bit shocking, it wasn’t debilitating.

“We talked all week that there was going to be adversity in this game, and we talked about it again in the pregame meeting, that it’s going to happen,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “Whether we’re behind or we get a goal called back, it’s going to be something.”

Quinnipiac struck first in the game’s ninth minute, but two Golden Griffins goals within 44 seconds early in the second period seemed to take the wind out of the favorites’ sails. Quinnipiac took most of the second period to regroup, failing to generate much intensity until the final frame.

“When we got behind, it really wasn’t panic,” Pecknold said. “That’s not to say we weren’t worried, but it wasn’t panic.”

The coach expressed his worry with volume, according to forward Connor Jones.

“He wasn’t too happy, I don’t think,” the junior grinned sheepishly. “He did a little yelling, a little screaming, got the boys fired up, but he stays positive. He does a great job of motivating us for sure. They scored that quick goal [early in the third], and we’re just like, ‘Let’s go.’ Coach says, ‘All right, boys, it’s time,’ and I think after that, we took it to ’em.”

Pecknold corroborated Jones’ take on the intermission paint-peel.

“I was aggressive, but it was all positive,” he said. “We need to compete, we need to battle, we’ve got six or seven guys who are doing great, and whatever’s left — 12 or 13 — that aren’t doing what we need to do. I don’t want to have our season end, and sit there on our bus ride home, regretting that we didn’t play hard. I was aggressive with my tone with them. I don’t usually have to yell at them, but I thought it was time and we needed a little wake-up call.”

The Griffins scored just 3:43 into the final stanza, but that only seemed to jump-start the edgy Bobcats.

“I think after they scored that third goal, I think we just checked ourselves on the bench. We’re down two, we’ve got time, we’ve just got to get everybody going.”

Matthew Peca’s short-side snipe 4 1/2 minutes later cut the lead to one, and that effectively sealed the deal. The Bobcats were down 3-2, but according to Pecknold, the game was as good as won.

“The second goal gave us life; we felt it. It was a big-time goal, it was exciting, the guys were fired up, and I knew we were going to win,” he said. “When we were at 3-2, I knew we were going to win.”


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