Bobcats win ‘Heroes Hat’ at Madison Square Garden

Greg Glynn

On Feb. 28, the men’s ice hockey team traveled to Storrs, CT to take on the UConn Huskies, and capture the “Heroes Hat” for winning the season series between the two teams.

The “Heroes Hat” was established last year in honor of all those who lost their lives in the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. Both universities were directly affected by the tragedy.

The award specifically remembers Joseph Mascali (FDNY/Staten Island 5), father of QU students Chris and Jenn Mascali, and at Amy Jarret, a flight attendant (United 175), sister of UConn hockey player Matt Jarret.

Quinnipiac won the season series last year to win the inaugural “Heroes Hat”. Earlier this season, Quinnipiac notched a 7-4 win over the Huskies at the UConn Ice Arena to take the 1-0 lead in the best of three series.

Game Two: Storrs, Conn.

The Bobcats got off to a solid start on Friday by scoring first, something they have done this year 21 times. Rob Hammel was the player who started the scoring for Quinnipiac, but it wasn’t pretty. Hammel skated along the right hand side board and centered the pass in front. No one was there for the Bobcats, but UConn defenseman Michael Hoffman was back checking when he lost his footing and slid into the UConn net, at the exact same time the Hammel centered the puck. The goal gave the Bobcats a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period.

The second period which has been the most problematic period all season was that yet again on Friday as the Bobcats allowed 4 unanswered goals by the Huskies. Kurt Kamienski scored just 1:43 into the period and under four minutes later Eric St. Arnauld beat Justin Eddy to give the Huskies the 2-1 lead.

UConn forward Matt Grew gave the Huskies a two goal cushion at the 6:56 mark of the second on assists from Kurt Kamienski and Ron D’Angelo.

Quinnipiac’s Hammel was then called for a controversial holding call at 9:14 in front of the Quinnipiac bench. Hammel fell down, along with a UConn player but the referee made the penalty call, and it cost the Bobcats.

On that power play Mark Murphy found the open ice as he took a pass from D’Angelo and buried in the back of the net to put the Huskies ahead 4-1. The Bobcats did manage to stop the bleeding before the end of the period when Dan Ennis riffled a shot from the point that nearly tore the twine in the back of the net. For Ennis, it was his ninth goal of the season and a big power play goal for the Bobcats.

The game was going bad enough, trailing 4-2 heading into the third, but the Bobcats were also without forwards Brain Herbert and Ty Deinema. Both were hurt earlier in the game, and the Bobcats could have used them in the third.

The Bobcats responded to the adversity well just under six minutes into the period when Ryan Morton got back his scoring touch at 5:18 when he picked up a loose rebound in front of UConn goaltender Artie Imbriano and cut the deficit down to one.

Quinnipiac managed to come all the way back and tie the game with 4:33 to go when Wade Winkler took a shot from the point on a power play that found its way through all the traffic in front and into the net. This was Winkler’s 12th goal of the season but more importantly it had tied the game at 4-4. It wouldn’t last for long however, in fact it only lasted 12 seconds.

UConn’s Murphy scored a disputed goal, as he picked up a rebound from the shot from the point. UConn players crashed the net and knocked Justin Eddy over. The officials allowed the goal to stand and the Huskies captured game two of the Heroes Hat series 5-4.

This meant that Saturday’s game at Madison Square Garden would be for the rights to the season series between the two teams and the honor and dignity that goes along with winning the “Heroes Hat.”

New York, N.Y.,: MSG

The emotional day started at 12 noon on Saturday in New York, New York at the “World’s Most Famous Arena” at Madison Square Garden. Last year the final game was played at the Northford Ice Pavilion, but this year the Garden provided an extra emotional atmosphere, since this was the same city where a majority of the tragic events took place on September 11, 2001.

Despite the two teams battling 19 hours previous to the drop of the puck, the teams showed no sign of fatigue, only pure adrenaline on the home ice of the New York Rangers.

The Bobcats once again struck first as Ryan Morton scored his second goal in as many nights on assists from Dan Rossi and Chris White just 1:22 into the game. Morton had four points in the weekend series against UConn.

“He had a good weekend, he was flying today and we certainly need Ryan to score if were going to advance in the playoffs,” said head coach Rand Pecknold

The momentum swung on the Bobcats side and Matt Froehlich also jumped in on the scoring spree as he scored his team leading 19th goal of the season at 3:34, giving Quinnipiac the 2-0 lead.

At the 10:07 mark of the first period, the Bobcats’ Tom Watkins was called for an interference penalty away from the play. The Huskies took advantage of the power play just 44 seconds after the man advantage was awarded when Marcus Baxter beat Justin Eddy to cut the Huskies deficit to one.

After the first period the Bobcats had the 2-1 lead and were looking to hold onto it in the second period, something which hasn’t happened in the last few games.

Quinnipiac’s White helped the cause at 7:56 as he and Morton went in the UConn end on a two on one. White faked the pass across to Morton and then kept it himself as he slid the puck past Imbraino giving the Bobcats a 3-1 lead.

UConn’s Eric Nelson closed the gap with 12:21 left in the second period when the Huskies scored on the power play as Dan Ennis was called for hitting from behind. However, the Bobcats made it through the second period the way it started up: with a goal.

“The guys came out with a lot more jam tonight, we played well. We didn’t play great but we played well enough to win,” said Pecknold

In the third period the Bobcats continued to pressure the Huskies with a plethora of shots from the point. Finally it was a Dan Ennis blast that deflected off UConn goalie Imbriano and was in perfect position for Craig Falite to put it in the back of the net. For Falite, it was his 10th goal of the season after he had started off the season on such a tare.

The Huskies would not go away, as UConn peppered Justin Eddy the rest of the game. Eventually at 12:36 the Huskies found the combination to beat Eddy. Tim Olsen sent the puck down low to Kamienski, who fired a shot on goal from the corner. His shot was kicked aside by Eddy, but the Bobcats couldn’t clear it and Murphy capitalized on the loose puck in front and put home the rebound to beat Eddy, and the Bobcats led just 4-3.

Despite a timeout by the Huskies with 1:41 to go the Huskies were unable to pull their goalie and get the extra attacker on the ice and the Bobcats held on for the 4-3 win and captured the “Heroes Hat” for the second year in row.

Justin Eddy made 23 saves in the win for the Bobcats, who improved to 19-11-1 overall and 17-6-1 in conference play.

“We struggled in certain areas, but we toughed it out, we had to have the win today. Justin played well, we still have some things to work on, but its progress,” said Pecknold

The Huskies with the loss have made it much more difficult for themselves to make the playoffs as they are tied in the 9th slot with American International.

In other league action this weekend, Mercyhurst was victorious in both of their games against Holy Cross and Bentley on the road. If the Lakers win on March 8 against Canisius they will clinch the regular season title. However, it is the team that wins the conference tournament that goes to the NCAA tournament.

The Bobcats have a game this week on Wednesday versus American International, who they have beat three other times this season. Quinnipiac will finish the regular season and have senior night on Sunday March 9 at 7 p.m. versus Army.

The men’s ice hockey team has certainly generated some momentum after the 4-3 win over UConn at the Garden. However, it remains to be seen if the team can generate enough momentum in time to take them to West Point, N.Y., to win the MAAC Championship.