Men’s hockey closes out QCup

Doug Manners

The men’s hockey team needed a little extra time this past weekend in the Quinnipiac Cup. In the end, though, playing overtime paid off as the Bobcats won both games in the extra period to win the four-team tournament for the sixth time in eight years.

On Friday evening, the Bobcats took to the ice to face American International College for the right to play Air Force, which knocked off Bentley, 4-2 earler in the afternoon, in Saturday’s night Quinnipiac Cup Final. The Yellow Jackets, who finished in last-place in the MAAC last season, kept the contest close due to a strong performance from goaltender Frank Novello who made 39 saves.

The Bobcats tallied the only goal of the first period while on a man advantage. Junior Matt Froehlich, of Apple Valley, Minnesota, took at pass from Dustin Hughes, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and tapped the puck past Novello at 9:14 left in the period.

AIC opened the second stanza with an early goal from Andy Walbert, who fired a shot over the shoulder of Quinnipiac goaltender Justin Eddy. He finished the game with 11 saves. Then, with 3:01 left in the period, the Yellow Jackets took a 2-1 lead when Jason Lecours fed a pass to Jeremy Leroux, who was left wide open in front of the Quinnipiac goal and beat Eddy.

The Bobcats rallied in the third period to knot the score at 2-2 thanks to Froehlich’s second power play goal of the game. Hughes put the puck on net and Froehlich tipped it past Novello at 4:19 of the third. Quinnipiac dominated the play in the third period, holding a 17-3 advantage in shots, but couldn’t pull ahead to prevent overtime.

In the overtime period, the Bobcats put four shots-on-goal in the opening 90 seconds and scored at the 1:25 mark of the extra frame. Ty Deinema, of Wayzata, Minnesota, snapped a shot from between the face-off circle past Novello to give the Bobcats a come from behind, 3-2 victory.

After Bentley doubled up AIC, 6-3, in the consolation game on Saturday afternoon, the Bobcats and Air Force Academy Falcons squared off in the final game of the Quinnipiac Cup on Saturday night.

Following a scoreless first period, the Bobcats exploded for three goals in a span of 6:35 in the second period beginning with senior Ryan Morton’s rebound goal at 7:08. Reid Cashman, of Red Wing, Minnesota, put Quinnipiac ahead, 2-0, at 13:17 when his shot from the left point beat Air Force goalie Mike Polidor. Just 26 seconds later, Morton, a native of Hampden, Massachusetts, scored on another rebound to give the Bobcats a commanding 3-0 lead.

Quinnipiac was in control until sophomore defenseman Dan Rossi, of Surrey, British Columbia, was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting from behind at 8:40 of the third period. The Falcons scored twice on the power play in a span of 15 seconds while on the man advantage to cut Quinnipiac’s lead to one goal.

Air Force then tied the game with a late power play goal. Shane Saum scored after a scramble in front of the net with 1:04 remaining in regulation to force overtime.

The Falcons tallied the first three shots in the extra frame, but Quinnipiac junior goaltender Jamie Holden, of Telkwa, British Columbia, kept Air Force off the scoreboard. Holden concluded the game with 35 saves. The Bobcats then took advantage of a turnover in the Falcons’ zone and sophomore forward John Kelly, of Winnetka, Illinois, backhanded the puck through the five-hole of Polidor with 2:26 left in overtime to give the Bobcats the victory.

Cashman, Deinema, and Kelly, the tournament MVP, were selected to the 2003 Quinnipiac Cup All-Tournament Team.

The men’s hockey team plays Friday, Oct. 17 and Saturday, Oct. 18 at the University of Michigan. Friday night’s game will be televised live on NESN at 7:30 p.m.