All good things must come to and end, and on January 31, it finally did. The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team had a sixteen game unbeaten streak against the Sacred Heart Pioneers, a streak over more than a 5 year span. However, on the last night of January the Bobcats finally lost to the Pioneers for the first time since March 1,1997.
The weekend series started with a pummeling 4-1 win for the Pioneers on Friday night, with the Bobcats sporting their new blue road uniforms. The Pioneers established that they were going to end the streak as they scored first at 12:57 when Garret Larson capitalized on a Bernie Chmiel shot as Larson tipped it up to the top shelf to beat Bobcat goaltender Justin Eddy.
The Pioneers picked up their second goal of the night on the power play under two minutes later as Marc-Andre Fournier found a loose puck in front and slid it through Justin Eddy’s pads. Before the end of the first period the Pioneer’s Rocco Molinaro was called for hooking which gave the Bobcats a power play heading into the second period.
In the second period Quinnipiac capitalized on that power play at 1:18 when Wade Winkler took a blast from the point that snuck inside the right post. After that goal the last five goals for the Bobcats had all been scored by defenseman. Later in the period, the Pioneers exploded for two more goals.
A turnover in the Bobcats end led to a goal by Peter Giatrelis goal at 13:28 and that gave Sacred Heart the 3-1 lead. Then, Lloyd Tennant put the final touches on the game when he scored Sacred Heart’s 4th goal and the final goal of the game.
The third period was full of offensive oppertunities, but neither team could cash in. The Pioneers won the game 4-1 in a solid performance on their home ice at the Milford Ice Pavilion.
On Saturday night, the series culminated on Quinnipiac’s home ice at the Northford Ice Pavilion with the Bobcats in their new white home uniforms, looking a lot better in them than the road blues the night before.
It was a record breaking night at Northford, as before the game Matt Erhart was awarded his plaque for becoming the 22nd player in Quinnipiac hockey history to score 100 career points, and just the second pure defenseman.
Erhart and Dan Ennis also broke another record by stepping out onto the ice playing in their 134 career games. This broke the old record set by Mike LaRocca from last year at 133.
However, from the opening face off it looked as though it was going to be a far cry from a night the players would want to remember as the Pioneers scored just 21 seconds into the game. Bernie Chmeil took a shot from the point that got deflected in front and found its way through Jamie Holden’s five hole.
Sacred Heart carried most of the play in the first and it didn’t take long for them to get their second goal. The goal came just under three minutes later when Richard Naumann took advantage of Jamie Holden coming out of the crease to play the puck off the back boards. The puck took an awkward bounce and all Naumann had to do was put the puck into the open net. After one period of play the scoreboard was the same as the night before with the Pioneers ahead 2-0.
The Bobcats were becoming extremely frustrated in the second period with the chippy and unsportsmanlike play of the Pioneers, and instead of continuing to retaliate the Bobcats hurt the Pioneers where it hurts the most, on the scoreboard.
Quinnipiac first capitalized on a Nick Nutcher high sticking call that led to a QU powerplay. With the face off inside the Pioneer end it didn’t take long for the Bobcats to strike. Winkler picked up the puck and passed to his defensive partner Matt Erhart. Erhart then shot a cannon toward the net that John Kelly eventually got a stick on and put behind the Pioneers goalie, Eddy Ferhi.
After the Bobcats first goal the sold out crowd at Northford Ice Pavilion erupted and became heavily involved in the hockey game. The Bobcats responded by scoring again just less than three minutes later when Craig Falite picked up his ninth goal of the season on a pass from Dan Ennis and Tim Morrison at 17:45.
The third period and final period was full of emotion and scoring. Michael Bordieri gave the Bobcats their first lead of the hockey game at 4:39 when he poked home a loose rebound in front of Ferhi.
The frustrated Pioneers followed up the Bobcats goal with one of their own under two minutes later at the six minute mark. Barclay Folk found himself in perfect position to put the puck past Jamie Holden to tie the game 3-3.
At the 9:44 mark the Bobcat’s Craig Falite and Pioneer’s Peter Giatrelis were both put in the box, and the four on four hockey created a lot of room out on the ice for Matt Craig and Ryan Morton to work their magic.
Morton took the puck from behind the net and found Matt Craig in front to pick up his team leading 15th goal of the season, and give the Bobcats 4-3 lead. At 12:46 Sacred Heart practically threw in the towel when Bernie Chmiel slashed Michael Bordieri which resulted in a five minute slashing penalty.
There were 63 total penalty minutes between these two team on Saturday night. Quinnipiac made sure that they took advantage as the Bobcats were 3/5 with the man advantage on the night.
The third power play goal came when Morton made the Pioneers pay under a minute later after the penalty. With 3:05 left in the game when he put the puck past Fehri and gave the Bobcats the 5-3 win.
Jamie Holden had a solid night with 30 saves in the win for the Bobcats. The win became even more satisfying for the Bobcats when Mercyhurst lost to Bentley earlier in the night. Quinnipiac improved to 16-7-1, 14-4-1 in the MAAC with the win. The Bobcats still remain in first place in the conference and after the game on Saturday the Bobcats seem to be back on track.
Quinnipiac’s next game will be a lone game next weekend on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. versus the Bentley Falcons. Ironically, Quinnipiac has a 16 game unbeaten streak against the Falcons; the same number of games Quinnipiac had gone unbeaten before losing to Sacred Heart this past weekend.
Quinnipiac has the one game this upcoming weekend before flying out to Colorado to take on Air Force, but the team can’t look ahead too far or the Falcons could swoop in next weekend and upset the Bobcats.