Men’s ice hockey sweeps Nebraska-Omaha

Nick Solari

The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team came into the weekend series against Nebraska-Omaha looking to extend its 10-game unbeaten streak, and its strong play against ranked opponents. Consider the first two contests a success.

Behind senior goalie Eric Hartzell’s 28 saves on the day, the No. 9 Bobcats completed a two-game sweep of Nebraska-Omaha on Sunday afternoon at the TD Bank Sports Center by a final score of 3-1.

“We played an excellent hockey team the last few days, they have some great forwards,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said after the game. “I thought we cleaned up a lot of areas we struggled on yesterday. Our neutral zone was good today, and our D zone was good as well. It wasn’t perfect, but we played well enough and Hartzell got the job done.”

The first goal of the day, and the first lead in the weekend series for Nebraska-Omaha (11-8-2, 7-4-1 WCHA), came at 5:25 in the first period. After a Bryce Van Brabant slashing penalty, Ryan Walters netted a power play goal to give his team a 1-0 lead. For Walters, it was his 12th goal of the year to go along with 16 assists, totaling 28 points and placing him in a tie for first in Division I scoring.

Quinnipiac (14-3-2, 8-0-0 ECAC) responded quickly and tied the game two minutes later. Senior forward Clay Harvey scored his third goal of the season from the front of the net, with assists credited to Jeremy Langlois and Zach Luczyk.

“Sometimes you go through tough games, and yesterday was one of those games,” Hartzell said afterwards. “The team did a good job clearing pucks and supporting me today, and it just made life easy.”

With 4:01 remaining in the first period, Connor Jones deked out in front of the net and blasted a shot past Nebraska-Omaha goalie John Faulkner to give the Bobcats the 2-1 lead; their first of the game.

Later, only 2:25 into the second period, Ben Arnt extended the Quinnipiac lead with the team’s second power play goal of the game, assists to both Matthew Peca and Kellen Jones.

The biggest pregame change came in the form of a goalie switch for Nebraska-Omaha. The visitors swapped in Faulkner for Dec. 29 starter Anthony Stolarz; the former of which allowed three goals and made 34 saves.

Quinnipiac outshot the visiting Mavericks 37-29 on the day, including a 15-8 second period advantage and an 18-9 third period advantage.

The win extended Quinnipiac’s unbeaten streak to 12 games on the year, 11-0-1 during that tenure. The streak is currently the highest in team history, and ties Niagara for the longest in NCAA Division I this season.

“Everyone on our team believes we are the best team in college hockey,” Hartzell said. “We just have to continue playing that way.”

Quinnipiac also moved to 6-0 this year against ranked opponents, defeating Maine, Cornell, St. Lawrence, Union, and most recently Nebraska-Omaha twice in as many days.

After sweeping the series, Quinnipiac holds the advantage 4-1-1 all-time against the Mavericks. The next action for the Bobcats is Friday, Jan. 4 against Dartmouth, which will be televised locally on NESN.