With just less than three minutes left in overtime, Quinnipiac had a power play to try and win the game. Instead, an errant pass led to a breakaway for Brown. But Zach Hansen, in a last-ditch defensive effort, tripped Harry Zolnierczyk. The referees awarded Zolnierczyk a penalty shot. And so the game, and possibly, both teams hopes for home ice in the first round of the playoffs came down to Zolnierczyk versus Eric Hartzell.
Hartzell won, and Quinnipiac left the TD Bank Sports Center with a 2-2 tie.
“Long story short, the guy shot it into my chest and all I had to do was go down” Hartzell said.
But there were anxious moments before the shot actually came. The referees discussed the penalty for a couple minutes before letting Zolnierczyk shoot.
“It was like about three minutes,” Hartzell said. “I was just trying to stay in my net and stay focused.”
Penalty shots are so rare, especially in college hockey, that Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold can’t remember the last time he saw one.
“I’ve been here 17 years. We’ve only had a couple and had a couple against us,” Pecknold said.
While Brown (8-13-5, 6-11-2 ECAC) missed an opportunity to win on the penalty shot, both teams had several chances to score and win the game. The Bobcats (13-13-6, 6-9-5) were up 2-0 after the first period, thanks to power-play goals from Scott Zurevinski and Russell Goodman, but couldn’t extend their lead to put the game away.
“We failed to finish our chances,” Pecknold said. “In part it was (Michael Clemente) making some saves and us not burying some pucks. We were up 2-0; we should have gone up 3-0 or 4-0.”
And that left the door open for Brown. Dennis Robertson brought Brown within one with just less than three minutes left in the second. Mark Hourihan tied it for Brown on a mishandled dump in just under four minutes into the third period.
“The second goal they scored was just sloppy on or part,” Pecknold said. “It was a dump in that we didn’t handle.”
And when the Bobcats weren’t missing chances, they were being sent to the penalty box. In all, they accumulated 41 penalty minutes, including 10-minute game misconducts to Sean Coughlin and Hansen
“We got ourselves in trouble with penalties,” Pecknold. “We took a bad one that lead to the first power play goal and then we take a five minute major, which they didn’t score on but we still lose a player. We need to be smarter than this.”
With the tie, the Bobcats missed an opportunity to move into seventh place in the ECAC and get closer to home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Instead they remain three points ahead of Brown and are now tied with Clarkson for seventh.