Midnight Madness is a yearly ritual at all Division I schools. Even at small Division I schools like Quinnipiac, the event is one of major importance. It serves to increase school spirit and the desire of the students to see their teams win.
This year Midnight Madness helped to kick off the basketball season, but it overshadowed another major Quinnipiac sporting event. This event was the Men’s Hockey Team’s showdown with nationally ranked Michigan.
The Bobcats received votes from two different national polls earlier in the week. Both the USCHO.com and USA Today/American Hockey Magazine polls had Quinnipiac as a team vying to break into the top 25.
These accomplishments came after a weekend in which the Bobcats won the Quinnipiac Cup Tournament for the sixth time in the past eight years. It was their fourth consecutive Quinnipiac Cup title.
The Bobcats traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to play the Wolverines in a two game set. With Friday and Saturday night games on tap, the Bobcats were looking to capitalize on a great opportunity to claim legitimacy in the top 25 polls. Prior to this weekend, the Bobcats were 1-6 all time against nationally ranked opponents with the one win coming against Union College.
Friday night’s game featured a flurry of action from both teams. Michigan jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period in front of a sellout crowd at Yost Arena. Brandon Kaleniecki scored with just 2:20 missing off of the scoreboard and was followed by Eric Nystrom’s power play goal 12:02 into the first.
The Wolverines looked to turn this into a blowout early, but the Bobcats remained resilient and cut the lead in half with Joe Dumais’ goal with just 4:55 left in the first.
The Bobcats were motivated by this late goal as they outscored Michigan 3-1 in the second period. Aaron Ludwig scored a shorthanded goal at the 7:24 mark to even the game. Michigan reclaimed the lead on Kaleniecki’s second goal of the night. This did not deter the Bobcats, as they responded with two goals in 20 seconds.
Chris White and Craig Falite each scored on Wolverine goalie Al Montoya. Quinnipiac held a 4-3 lead going into the third period, but it was not meant to be. Michigan’s Kaleniecki scored two more goals, giving him a career high four goals in the game, and powered the Wolverines to a gutsy 5-4 comeback victory over the Bobcats.
On Saturday night, the two teams faced off in yet another nail biter. After skating to a scoreless first period, Michigan jumped all over the Bobcats in the second period. Jeff Tambellini scored just 1:15 into the period, and then notched another goal with 5:28 left in the second. Quinnipiac could have easily folded at this point, but once again proved they deserve respect with a second 2-0 comeback in as many nights.
Sophomore Tim Morrison put Quinnipiac on the board with just 53 seconds remaining in the second period. The Bobcats wasted no time in the final period, evening the score with Chris White’s goal just 3:49 into the period. The two teams skated a stalemate for the next 8:51, until Tambellini recorded his third goal at the 12:40 mark.
Senior goalie Justin Eddie did everything he could to keep the ‘Cats in the game, recording 51 saves, the third time he has recorded at least 50 saves in one contest in his career. However, the Wolverines played good defense for the remainder of the game and clinched a sweep of the two game set.
Even though Quinnipiac was not able to record a victory against the sixth ranked Michigan Wolverines, the team showed that no opponent can consider them a pushover.
Two one-goal defeats against a national hockey powerhouse prove that the Bobcats are for real. They continue their season this weekend when they travel to Madison, Wisconsin, to play a two game set against the University of Wisconsin Badgers.