While most of the students were at home over break, Bryan Leitch and the men’s ice hockey team were on the road making noise.
On Dec. 11, head coach Rand Pecknold announced that freshman goalie Nick Pisellini has taken a leave of absence from the team for personal reasons. Not having made a decision regarding his return to the Bobcats, Pisellini cited that his leave was because of a family matter.
“Nick is going to take some needed time off,” Pecknold said. “We don’t know when he’ll return to the team – it could be next semester or possibly next fall. It is a family matter and we will respect his privacy. We wish nothing but the best for Nick and his family during this time.”
While a freshman in class, Pisellini was no freshman on the ice. Starting nine of his 11 games with the team, he posted a 6-2-1 record and ranked third in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey in goals-against-average (1.38) and save percentage (.948).
The team continued on without Pisellini. On Dec. 29 and Dec. 30, the men’s ice hockey team took part in the Toyota UConn Hockey Classic in Storrs, Conn.
In the first round of play, the Bobcats took on the Merrimack Warriors, and defeated them by a score of 4-3 in overtime. Four minutes into the third period, David Marshall scored and tied the game at three goals apiece. The goal was Marshall’s 59th career tally, moving him into fourth place Quinnipiac’s Division I history and 10th place all-time at QU.
In the second minute of overtime, Leitch found Brandon Wong, who was waiting in the slot and scored the game-winning goal.
With the win, the Bobcats advanced to the tournament final, where the No. 11 Air Force Falcons were waiting. After coming off of their overtime victory, the momentum did not stop for the Bobcats.
Eric Lampe scored near the end of the first period to put the Bobcats on the board. In a two-minute span midway through the second period, the Bobcats expanded their lead to 3-0 with goals from Marshall and Lampe.
Air Force scored midway through the second, and again near the end of the third period to make the score 3-2. Matt Sorteberg scored with a little less than a minute and a half left in the game on an empty net to put the nail in the coffin and give the Bobcats a 4-2 victory and a tournament championship.
Marshall’s goal was a record-setting goal. The senior forward become the 28th player in Quinnipiac history to reach the 100 point mark, and the 15th player to do so at the Division I level. With the goal, Marshall became the 10th player in Quinnipiac history to score 60 goals and just the fourth player at the Division I level.
In addition to Marshall’s accomplishments, freshman Dan Clarke had his own accomplishment. He started in his first career game with the Bobcats and held down the fort in the victory. Both Marshall and Clarke were named to the All-Tournament team, in addition to Leitch.
After the tournament, the Bobcats defeated Harvard 5-2 and No. 20 Dartmouth 6-0. With the victories, the Bobcats received recognition, being ranked in the USCHO.com/CBS Sports Division I Poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll, both national polls. The team was also named the College Hockey News National Team of the Week.
Leitch also received more recognition. He was named the Inside College Hockey National Player of the Week, ECAC Player of the Week and was named as a nominee of the prestigious Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given each year to the top NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey player.
Quinnipiacbobcats.com contributed to this article.