Men’s hockey team hits the road

Greg Glynn

Over the Thanksgiving Break while most students were traveling to relative’s houses or to family around the country, the men’s ice hockey team was also on the road, but with different destinations.
With games at Army, Northeastern and Maine, the nine game unbeaten streak came to an end.
The difficult trip resulted in zero points, but there were a lot of positives although the Bobcats overall record fell to 9-4-1 and 7-1-1 in the MAAC.
The first MAAC loss of the season came for the Bobcats on Nov. 22, at West Point, N.Y., against Army.
Quinnipiac had trouble from the opening face off, losing the game 3-1.
“I was really disappointed with our effort in the first period and a half,” said coach Randy Pecknold.
Army took that time to capitalize and scored twice against the Bobcats and the team never really recovered. The lone goal for Quinnipiac came from Matt Erhart at 5:25 of the third period.
Quinnipiac hasn’t been shut out since more than a year ago on Nov. 18, 2001, against Maine 9-0. However, offense has not been the problem for the team so far this season, averaging 4.57 goals per game which leads the MAAC and is fifth in the nation.
Justin Eddy had a solid performance with 43 saves in the 3-1 loss.
Defense was a problem for the team in the game against the Black Knights.
“I didn’t think we played great defense against Army, so our focus with Northeastern was to be a better defensive team,” said Pecknold.
That defensive minded strategy was applied against the Northeastern Huskies like coach Pecknold wanted, just not tight enough. The Bobcats lost by a slim 2-1 margin against the Hockey East foe.
Jamie Holden was back between the pipes for the Bobcats, but had trouble on the first goal by Northeastern. Holden saved the original shot from the blueline, and he thought he had tied up the rebound. However, Northeastern’s Scott Selig swooped in, stole the puck away from Holden and gave the Huskies the 1-0 lead.
The Bobcats goal that tied the game came on the power play off the stick of Ryan Morton. The power play is one thing the Bobcats could be thankful for over the break. The team is tied with Colorado College for the highest power play percentage in the country at 32.9 percent. Morton picked up his eighth goal of the season and sixth on the power play.
The game was tied 1-1 until 13:49 of the third when Northeastern capitalized on a loose puck opportunity. The Bobcats were evenly matched against the Huskies and had opportunities to win the game, including four other power plays, but just couldn’t capitalize.
Three days later, on Nov. 26, the Bobcats traveled to Orono, Maine, to face the fourth ranked Maine Black Bears. This date will be one the Bobcats entire hockey program will remember for a while.
Despite losing to Maine in another nail bitter 2-1, the team played by far and away its most competitive game of the season.
“We competed, and when you compete that hard, it’s kind of an equalizer for the talent,” said Pecknold.
The first period was one that will stand the test of time, as the Black Bears peppered Holden with 22 shots. The talented Holden made spectacular saves in one of the best goaltending performances in Quinnipiac hockey history.
Holden’s first period will go in the history books. With the 22 saves in the first period he beat his old mark of 20 saves in the MAAC championship game last year against the Mercyhurst Lakers.
Maine’s Alfond Arena is known as one of the toughest environments to play in front of in all of college hockey. The arena was very quiet, until 14:55 of the second period when Maine scored its first goal of the game.
Greg Moore gave the Black Bears the lead 1-0 and ignited the hometown crowd.
The character of the Bobcats peaked at the 2:20 mark of the third period when Craig Falite scored one of the most amazing goals of the season. Falite picked up a pass from Tom Watkins as he skated out of the neutral zone, over the blue line, and used terrific stick handling skills to maneuver his way around the Maine defenseman and then beat Maine goaltender Frank Doyle.
The goal sparked the team and put a hush over the Maine crowd, who realized that their Black Bears were in trouble.
The Bobcats played terrific defensive hockey in the later stages of the game, but the Black Bears finally broke the 1-1 tie with 3:39 to go in the game on a goal by Robert Liscak.
“The goal [Maine] scored was just a really bad break,” said Pecknold. “The puck is right there and Bordieri has it. If he is 6’3, he handles that and we get it out of the zone, but those are the breaks in hockey.”
The break allowed Liscak to dart into the Bobcats end, pick up the puck and beat Holden short side to give Maine the eventual 2-1 win. The Bobcats still refused to give up and even had a late flurry in the Maine end with seconds left and an extra skater on the ice, but just couldn’t find the back of the net.
“In both games the kids can’t work any harder than that, so that’s the big thing,” said Pecknold. “If we had gotten lucky or gotten a better bounce here or there, I thought we were going to score there toward the end. We basically had half a net to shoot at, we just couldn’t get a stick on it.”
In what was a road trip filled with speed bumps, the Bobcats suffered three close losses, but still have an impressive 9-4-1 record and 7-1-1 mark in conference play, which has the team in first place in the conference by three points over Holy Cross.
The team has been led by senior Brain Herbert, who leads the team in points with 20 and in assists as well with 15. The go-to guy in the offensive end has been the sensational sophomore Matt Craig. Craig has picked up right where he left off last year with his stick handling skills and goal scoring ability, which are a few of the reasons why offense hasn’t been a problem so far this season.
The freshmen have made their impact as well. Michael Bordieri leads the freshmen in scoring with seven points, one ahead of Aaron Ludwig who leads freshmen in goal scoring with three goals this season.
The defense has also been involved in the offensive end. Matt Erhart leads defensemen with 14 points, while senior defenseman Wade Winkler has tickled the twine with a hat trick earlier in the season.
Erhart and Dan Ennis, the two captains, have kept the team right on track and provided some much needed leadership against the most recent out of conference opponents.
The road trip didn’t result in any points, but there were some serious paw prints in the right direction.