‘Cats skate past Crusaders

Cassie Comeau

Photo by Lesly Alvarez/Chronicle

Coming off a split series with Ohio State, the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team defeated the Holy Cross Crusaders, 5-3, in Wednesday’s home opener at the High Points Solutions Arena at the TD Bank Sports Center.

Tied at 3 heading into the third period, both teams knew that they had to break the stalemate. At the 8:02 mark of the final period, Quinnipiac did just that. Skating towards the goal and flanked on both side by Crusaders, forward Ben Arnt received the puck from defenseman Loren Barron. Picking up the rebound from his own shot, Arnt notched the go-ahead goal.

“It was just a lucky play,” Arnt said. “I just wanted to get out in front of the net for a rebound and hopefully something good came out of it. I was fortunate enough to pretty much have it bounce off my stick, going right after rebounds.”

Nearly 11 minutes later, forward Connor Jones scored an insurance goal on a breakaway after receiving a pass from defenseman Zach Davies to give Quinnipiac (2-1-1) a two-goal lead.

“There was definitely some adversity that we had to face and we fought through it, and hopefully it’ll make us a better team,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I thought the second and third [periods] we played hard, we got our legs going a little bit. Certainly made a few mistakes, but we were a much better hockey team.”

The adversity that the Bobcats faced arrived in the form of a three-goal comeback by the Crusaders (0-1). Leading 2-0 in the beginning of the second period, with goals by defenseman Zack Currie and forward Cory Hibbeler, Quinnipiac lost the lead when Holy Cross netted three goals in 12-and-a-half minutes, with defenseman Matthew Davis starting it off.

“It was like we’re not doing anything wrong,” Holy Cross head coach Paul Pearl said. “We just didn’t have any puck luck at that point. We did a nice job. It was really big for Davis to get that goal and make it 2-1 because that just kind of stopped any type of negative that might’ve been coming on to the bench.”

Adam Schmidt and Kyle Fletcher followed Davis to give the Crusaders a 3-2 lead, but the Bobcats didn’t falter. Barron answered with one of his own a minute-and-a-half later to tie up the game.

“Last year we would’ve panicked a little bit,” Pecknold said. “This year we didn’t panic, which was nice. I think we’ve matured. We did it tonight. We’ll see how the year goes on. I think last year we would’ve panicked more. This year the guys were pretty calm on the bench and just kept working and got back in it to make it 3-3.”

The Bobcats, who outshot Holy Cross 44-24, kept the lead thanks to 21 saves by senior goalkeeper Dan Clarke.

“We possessed the puck, we cycled, and we were able to get opportunities,” Pearl said. “Then other times, we kind of gave the puck away a lot and you can’t do that, especially against these guys [Quinnipiac]. I give a lot of credit to those guys too. They’re pretty strong over the puck, and they move the puck well. Some had to do with what they were doing. I just think with a couple of my guys, we could be a little stronger.”

For their upcoming weekend games against Canisius, the Bobcats hope to have Yuri Bouharevich rejoin the lineup after being out with an injury.

“He’s a huge part of the team,” Pecknold said. “He’s one of our better forwards, one of our better penalty kill guys. We’re hoping to get him back for the weekend, so that will be a nice shot in the arm.”

The Bobcats came off a two-game road trip at Ohio State, and then play three games in four days, starting with the two-game series against Canisius.

“It’s a little hard [coming off a weekend road trip], but we know it’s coming,” Arnt said. “You just kind of got to have the right mindset for it, try as hard as you can and get going right away, try and get in the game as quick as you can, no matter what day it is.”

The puck drops at 4 p.m. Saturday as Quinnipiac takes on Canisius at home for Parents’ Weekend.