Bobcats top Bears in Game One

Brian Stevenson

In a whacky, back and forth opening game of the ECAC first round playoff series between Quinnipiac and Brown, the Bobcats got the last laugh in a 7-6 overtime win at the TD Banknorth Sportscenter Friday night.

David Marshall’s controversial goal 4:58 into overtime gave the Bobcats a dramatic win after blowing leads of 5-1 and 6-3 in regulation and surrendering the tying goal with just five seconds remaining in the third.

Marshall picked up a loose puck in the slot and was able to slip a shot past Brown goalie Mark Sibbald. The puck bounced off one post and slid across the goal crease towards the other post. Head referee Pete Feola was on top of the play and signaled goal, setting off an irate Sibbald.

“Eric (Lampe) worked hard and got open in the slot and threw it on net. I got a lucky bounce onto my stick, I was able to get one by Sibbald in net,” Marshall said. “I thought it hit the post and went in, and I’ll take that.”

The Bobcats, who had lost six straight entering the game, found themselves trailing 1-0 after the first period, despite out-shooting the Bears 16-8. Bud Fisher misplayed a dump-in with just under two minutes remaining in the first and a crashing Sean Muncey got the puck past Fisher to give Brown a 1-0 lead.

A dormant Quinnipiac offense, that had scored just nine goals over the six game skid, awoke in a big way early in the second period. Five goals on six shots within the first five minutes of the second period gave the Bobcats a commanding 5-1 lead.

“We were bound to get things going a little bit offensively. We were doing a lot of the little things, getting pucks on net,” assistant coach Scott Robson said.

Brandon Wong got the Bobcats on the board when he deflected a Dan Henningson shot past Brown starting goalie Dan Rosen. Just 17 seconds later, Bryan Leitch found Ben Nelson in front of the Bear net and the senior forward lifted the puck past Rosen. A minute later, the same duo found the back of the net as Leitch carried the puck down the left side and found a wide open Nelson to give the Bobcats a 3-1 lead.

The line of Leitch, Nelson and Jamie Bates, who have all scored 100 points in their careers, combined for five goals and six assists on the night.

Leitch scored two goals of his own over the next two minutes. Bates won the puck in the corner and found Leitch, who roofed a shot over Rosen’s shoulder from a bad angle. A power play goal two minutes later concluded the rally and resulted in Rosen being replaced in net for the Bears by Sibbald.

A pair of power play goals for the Bears by Ryan Garbutt and Chris Poli cut the lead in half with two minutes left in the second period.

But a great individual effort by Bates gave the Bobcats their sixth goal of the period. He wheeled around from the back of the net, spun past a Bear defenseman and lifted a shot past Sibbald to give the Bobcats a 6-3 entering the third period.

Brown scored three goals on just four shots in the third period to erase the deficit and send the game to overtime.

“We relaxed and stopped competing. It was certainly disappointing the way they came back,” Robson said.

Over the final seven minutes, the Bears were able to beat Fisher on a pair of scrums in front, including one with five seconds remaining to tie the score.

With 21 seconds left, a questionable icing call against Quinnipiac set up a faceoff deep in the Bobcat end. Leitch sent the puck down ice and a Brown defenseman skated after the puck. The play was blown dead as the puck crossed the goal line just before being touched.

“It was pretty close on the icing. I didn’t think it was icing, but the linseman makes the call. We need to win that draw and that’s the hockey game,” Robson said.

The Bears won the draw with the Sibbald pulled and an extra attacker on the ice, and Jeff Prough picked up a loose puck and tied the game at six.

Marshall’s overtime heroics capped off a night that saw 13 goals, 19 penalties and a whole lot of drama.

“It was definitely an entertaining night. I think the fans enjoyed it. A little nerve wrecking on us, but we had fun tonight and got a win. We just have to refocus for tomorrow (Saturday),” Marshall said.”

The teams face off tonight (Saturday) in Game 2 at 7 p.m. at the TD Banknorth Sportscenter. The Bobcats will advance to the quarterfinals at either Harvard or Union with a win. If the Bears win, the teams will meet Sunday night at 7 p.m. for a decisive third game.