Since Dec. 7, and the 5-2 loss to Providence, the Quinnipiac Men’s Ice Hockey Team record has fallen below the .500 mark. The last time Quinnipiac did not have a winning record in the mid-season span was during the 1995-96 season, when they were 6-6-4 through 16 games. Over the break the team lost five of their eight games. Most of the losses came in non-conference action against very tough opponents.
The blue and gold began to break in Troy, NY on Dec. 28 and 29 at the 51st annual holiday tournament, the oldest college tournament in the United States. Quinnipiac looked to upset the host, RPI, in the first round semi-final, and they came extremely close. It took the longest game in both the school’s history to find a winner. Eventually, in the second overtime it was the Engineer’s who ended the game on a controversial play in the Quinnipiac zone.
RPI jumped out to an early 2-0 lead until Quinnipiac captain Ryan Olsen scored on a power play at 12:28 of the first period. The Engineers picked up a third goal before Quinnipiac answered back. Olsen put a second goal in the net and Ryan Morton tallied two more goals for Quinnipiac to take a 4-3 lead. RPI managed to tie the game at 17:41 of the second period, which took the game into overtime.
During the second overtime it was Hamden native, Chris Miglore who scored the winning goal for RPI. RPI players crashed the net and goal tender Justin Eddy, whose stick was thrown to the corner and snapped in half as it hit the boards. Seconds later Miglore broke in on Eddy who was still without a stick. Miglore shot, and the game that lasted 90 minutes and 50 seconds was over.
Quinnipiac Head Coach, Rand Pecknold, said, “It was just a bad break for us, the kid bumps our goalie, breaks his stick and the refs are going to put their whistles away in overtime. If that’s regulation they probably call a penalty, and Justin didn’t have his stick and it is a different situation for a goaltender without a stick.”
On the consolation game the next night Quinnipiac was trying to avoid the fatigue factor, so the blue and gold didn’t waste any time getting on the board. Freshman Matt Froehlich got the team on top at 3:06 of the first period. Niagra tied the game just over a minute later and the scoring spree would continue.
The teams exchanged goals back and forth until late in the second period when the score was tied 4-4. The goals continued, but the Purple Eagles would eventually escape and fly away with the 7-6 victory.
“I thought we wore them down,” said Niagra Head Coach, Dave Burholder, “We’re going to pack up and get out of here and we’re going to take it.”
Just a week after setting the school’s record for the longest game the blue and gold traveled to East Lansing, MI to take on what was the sixth ranked Spartans. Quinnipiac played with a great deal of poise against a very intimidating Michigan State team. Quinnipiac lost both games on Jan. 4 and 5, 4-1 and 5-1, respectively.
Sophomore Ryan Morton had a huge weekend picking up the two goals that Quinnipiac scored in the series. In the first game on Friday night Quinnipiac ran into Hobey Baker and winner Ryan Miller who stopped 14 shots that night. The second night the Spartans opted to go with freshman Matt Migliaccio between the pipes.
Quinnipiac got to him early when Morton scored his second goal of the weekend at the 4:49 mark of the first period. Just over a minute later the Spartans Steve Jackson netted a goal against Jamie Holden and the game was tied at one. Quinnipiac played extremely well defensively to finish the first period. It was not until late in the second period that Michigan’s Brian Maloney scored the game winner on assists from Adam Hall and Tim Hearon.
The Spartans came out flying in the third and felt a sense of urgency. At the 1:17 mark John-Michael Liles scored the insurance the Spartans needed to come away with the win. Quinnipiac Head Coach Rand Pecknold talked about the great goaltending he got from both of his goalies over the weekend.
“I thought Jamie played well in relief of Justin, he gave us a chance to win, if he could have gotten a few luck bounces we could have stole a point or two,” he said. This was a weekend that may help Quinnipiac, and make a difference against the top opponents in the MAAC. Quinnipiac played with great poise against the Spartans and they’ll need the same poise when the playoffs roll around in early March.
On Jan. 11, Quinnipiac returned home to the Northford Ice Pavilion for the first time in over a month, the last time they were home they beat Canisius 3-1 on Dec. 1. Quinnipiac also returned to league action against the American International Yellow Jackets. Jamie Holden remained hot between the pipes as he picked up the shutout in the 3-0 wins stopping all 42 shots by the Yellow Jackets. Tyler Dufour led the defensive attack with two goals and Ryan Morton again picked up a goal to secure the victory.
The next night the team traveled to Springfield, Mass. to take on the same Yellow Jacket squad on their home ice. The team continued their winning streak, but this time it wasn’t as easy as the night before. Senior captain, Neil Breen started the scoring for Quinnipiac towards the end of the first period beating AIC’s goaltender Frank Novello. AIC put themselves on the board with a power play goal by Anthony Rufrano that tied the game at one.
Quinnipiac’s Ryan Olsen continued his success on the power play by positioning himself in front to put home the go ahead goal. Kevin Fournier of AIC would tie the game at two on a power play goal at the 9:02 mark of the second period. Then, just past the mid-point mark of the game it was Ryan Morton continuing his six game scoring streak with a goal that turned out to be the game winner. Quinnipiac freshman Rob Hammel added more insurance at the 15:00 minute mark of the second to close out the scoring. Quinnipiac played tight defense to take the win over the Yellow Jackets, including killing off three penalties.
The following weekend the blue and gold had a home game series against Army. Quinnipiac hosted the first game and again continued their winning ways and picked up the 4-2 victory. Quinnipiac was led by senior captain Todd Bennett, who returned to the line-up for the first time since early December.
Bennett scored the goal that tied the game at two in the third period, and Chris White and Brandon Schmidt tallied a goal a piece late in the third, helping Quinnipiac’s cause in the 4-2 win. Holden made 19 saves, helping to take Quinnipiac’s winning streak to three games.
The winning streak came to an end the next night at West Point, NY. Quinnipiac jumped out to the early lead with a goal 57 seconds into the game. Army would retaliate with a goal that tied the game. The Black Knights added a second goal just before the end of the first period.
In the second period Quinnipiac Head Coach put in goaltender Jamie Holden to try and stop the Knights attack; Holden came in and made 15 saves. Army, however, was able to score two more goals including a textbook 2 on 1, that gave the Knighs a 4-1 lead. Quinnipiac’s Chris White tried to start a comeback, scoring at 18:34 of the third period, but it was not soon enough and Quinnipiac lost the game 4-2.
The Quinnipiac Men’s Ice Hockey team plays their next game against Sacred Heart at 1 p.m. on Feb. 1 at the Northford Ice Pavilion.