Win at Merrimack highlights roadtrip

Doug Manners

While most of the Quinnipiac community headed home to relax over the Thanksgiving break, the men’s ice hockey team hit the road for the first time in four weeks to play four games.

The Bobcats began the road trip on Friday, November 14, in West Point, N.Y., where they battled Army to a 2-2 tie. The two teams traded first-period goals as junior Matt Froelich, of Apple Valley, Minn., tied the score at 1-1 with a power play goal 1:32 after Army’s Ryan Cruthers put the Black Knights ahead at 8:34.

The score remained knotted until Army sophomore forward Seth Beamer beat Quinnipiac junior goaltender Jamie Holden, of Telkwa, British Columbia, on the power play with a blast from the high slot with 11:36 left in the third period.

The Bobcats then rallied to force overtime when junior Jack Devaney, of Larchmont, N.Y., scored an even-strength goal with 2:45 left in regulation. The goal marked Devaney’s first as a member of the Bobcats. The six-foot, 180-pound forward spent the last two seasons playing for Fairfield University, which dropped its hockey prgram over the summer.

“The team didn’t play well as a whole, but we still had our chances to win the game,” said sophomore Joe Dumais, of Auburn, ME.

Army registered the only shot of the overtime period and also hit the post once. For the game, the Black Knights outshot the Bobcats, 40-33. With the tie, the Bobcats picked up their first road point of the season. They entered the game 0-4 away from home with a pair of losses at the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin, respectively.

“Last year we did not play well on the road. I think we gained some confidence playing on the road in tough places such as Wisconsin and Michigan,” said junior Matt Craig, of London, Ontario. “We need to be more consistent on the road. We are a very good home team, so if we can play with that consistency, good things will happen.”

The Bobcats were back in action the following evening as they visited the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Quinnipiac won the only previous meeting this season between the two teams, edging the Huskies at home on Halloween, 4-2.

Quinnipiac came out with their guns blazing, firing 17 shots at Connecticut goaltender Scott Tomes in the first period. However, neither team found the back of the net until the Huskies scored on a power play 2:41 into the second period. Mark Murphy fired the puck past Holden from the blue line to put the Bobcats in a 1-0 hole. The Bobcats answered with a late second-period goal from Dumais, who took a pass from behind the net and beat Tomes at the right post. Red shirt senior Mark Hallam, of Medicine Hat, Alberta, and sophomore Aaron Ludwig, of Lampman, Saskatchewan, assisted on the goal, Dumais’ second of the season. The score stayed the same through regulation and the overtime period and the game ended in a 1-1 tie

“We played real well and had many chances, but couldn’t convert on many of them,” Dumais said.

The Bobcats finished the game with a season-high 44 shots-on-goal, but Tomes made a career-high 43 saves to rank fourth on UConn’s all-time single-game saves list.

“I thought we played much better [at Connecticut] than [at Army],” Craig said. “They’re both games we should have won. Just because we got our first two points [on the road] does not mean with played to our potential or expectations.”

As the case has been all season, the Bobcats received stellar goaltending in both games, with Holden stopping 71 of 74 shots en route to being named Atlantic Hockey Goalie of the Week for the third consecutive week in which Quinnipiac took part in game action. With senior goalie Justin Eddy, of Apple Valley, Minn., earning the honor twice, the Bobcats have taken home the weekly honor five times this season.

After Thanksgiving Day, the Bobcats traveled to North Andover, Mass. for a two-game series with Merrimack College. In addition to looking for their first road victory of the season, Quinnipiac was also out to make history as the first Atlantic Hockey team ever to defeat a Hockey East opponent. In the Friday game, Merrimack squashed any hopes of a history-making night by scoring three goals in the final nine minutes of the second-period to put the Bobcats behind 3-0. Quinnipiac used an early-third period goal from sophomore Tim Morrison, of Hanover, Mass., to pull to within two goals, but dropped a 4-1 decision in the end. Eddy made 31 saves in the loss for Quinnipiac.

Saturday provided the Bobcats another opportunity to end Atlantic Hockey’s record of 0-40-5 versus Hockey East members. This time, the Bobcats took the lead first with a late first-period goal. With just 32 seconds remaining, Craig took a pass from junior Chris White, of Santa Ana, Cali., and one-timed the puck past Merrimack goaltender Jim Healey.

Merrimack evened the score at 8:56 of the second period on a goal from Tim Reidy. The Bobcats regained the one-goal edge with a five-on-three power play goal just under five minutes later. Craig’s shot from the right point was stopped, but White picked up the rebound in the right face-off circle and beat Healey.

The Warriors rallied to tie the game once again when Marco Rosa scored at 5:04 of the third period. Exactly seven minutes later, Quinnipiac pulled in front for good with Craig’s second goal of the night. Craig stuffed his own rebound past Healey for the eventual game-winning goal, which Hallam and Froelich assisted on.

With Froelich in the penalty box serving a tripping minor and Healey on the bench for the extra attacker, the Warriors had a six-on-four advantage in the final 1:05 of the contest. Merrimack turned the heat up and fired four shots at Holden, but the Bobcats survived to record the big victory. Holden finished the game with 29 saves and could very well receive Atlantic Hockey Goalie of the Week honors once again.

The victory marked Quinnipiac’s second win in program history over a team from one of the Big Four conferences. Their first victory came on December 3, 2000 on the road against ECAC member Union, 3-2. After posting a record of 1-1-2 over the Thanksgiving break, the Bobcats’ record stands at 6-5-2 and 3-0-2 in conference play. They return home this weekend for two games versus Atlantic Hockey opponents. On Friday at 7:00 PM, Mercyhurst makes its only trip to Northford this season in a key game for the Bobcats, who lost to the Lakers in the MAAC tournament last season, 4-3. Then, on Saturday, the Bobcats host Canisius at 4 p.m. After this weekend, the Bobcats do not play at home again until Jan.17.