Payback's a bitch, ain't it?
On Friday night, the Cornell men's hockey team was on top of the world. The Big Red had come to Hamden and shocked the college hockey wold by upsetting Quinnipiac 3-2, putting the nation's No. 1 team in the unenviable position of having to win two games in two nights against the same opponent in order to move on to the conference championship series next weekend. So on Saturday night, the Bobcats stormed back and blew away Big Red, 10-0, before 3,190 fans at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden to tie the ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series at one game apiece.
How big was Friday night's upset? Going in to that game, Cornell, the tourney's No. 9 seed, was a .500 team overall (only 8-11-2 in conference play) taking on mighty Quinnipiac, 25-5-5 and ranked No. 1 in the nation, on the Bobcats' home ice. One might argue that Sara Palin has a better chance of winning the Presidency in 2014 than the Big Red had on Friday night. But then again, that's why they play the games, right?
Two hours later, a pair of second-period power play goals by Brian Ferlin and 33 saves Andy Iles made believers of the Big Red faithful after Cornell took Game 1 of the ECAC Hockey quarterfinal match-up, 3-2, at TD Bank Sports Center.
But on Saturday, it was a different story completely. After having a full day to mull over Friday night's embarrassing loss, the Bobcats, playing without forward Bryce Van Brabant who suspended for one game by after a league review of a first-period elbowing incident in Friday’s game, came out firing on all cylinders, scoring the most goals by one team in the ECAC Hockey tournament since Harvard scored 11 against the Bobcats in 2008.
The Bobcats scored early and often. In fact, the rout was on just 24 seconds into the contest when Connor Jones one-timed a pass from teammate Matthew Peca and beat Iles to the five-hole. Seven-minutes later Travis St. Denis picked up his first of two tallies by redirecting a shot from the point by Zack Currie to give double up the Bobcats lead—and there was no looking back.
After taking that 2-0 lead into the locker room at the first intermission, the Bobcats put the game away early in the middle period by scoring three unanswered goals in the first 6:30 of the frame. First it was St. Denis adding his second marker of the game, then Pecca and Corey Hibbeler, a St. Louis native, made it 5-0 Bobcats with 13.30 left in the second stanza. By then it wasn't a matter of who would win, but rather by how much. By the end of the second period, the Bobcats were leading 9-zip.
Eric Hartzell one his 25th game for the Bobcats and, while relatively untested, the White Bear Lake, Minn. Native turned aside all nine shots he saw before exiting after the second period with a nine-goal advantage. Freshman Michael Garteig came in and threw a shutout in relief, stopping all eight shots he saw in the final 20 minutes in the game.
It was a rather rough-and-tumble affair. Between the two teams teams, 34 penalties were called for a total of 184 minutes in the penalty box. It represented the most penalties minutes compiled by two teams in ECAC Hockey tournament history, easily surpassing the 134 minutes set by Yale and Harvard in 1998. In fact, it was 13th most combined penalty minutes between two teams in NCAA Division I men's ice hockey history—and the most since Canisius and RIT compiled 251 on Feb. 9, 2008.
“It was an interesting game,” said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold, the master of understatement. “We're just happy to have won and get a chance to play [on Sunday].”
“We thought we played a good game [Friday] night,” added senior defenseman Zach Currie. “Obviously it didn't turn out the way we wanted, but we just figured if we came back the next night and played the way we could we'd be just fine and we'd take it to a third game.”
As impressive as Saturday night's blowout may have been (and make no mistake, it was—seven different Bobcats found the back of the Cornell net), it was, after all, just one game. All it did was set up a winner-take-all scenario for Sunday night, when the Bobcats, incredulously, face their second elimination game in two nights. First puck is slated to drop at 7:30 at the High Point Solutions Arena at the TD Bank Sports Center, with the winner advancing to the ECAC Hockey semifinals next Friday night in Atlantic City. For fans unable to attend, the game will be broadcast on AM 1220 WQUN with Bill Schweizer and Chris Kotsopoulos calling the action, and streamed live at quinnipiacbobcats.com.