Another game against Brown, and another tie for Quinnipiac. The tie marked the second time this season that the Bobcats and Bears have skated to a draw. Last time out on Feb. 1st, the teams tied 1-1 at Meehan Auditorium in Providence.
Tonight, however, was a game the Bobcats would like to have back. Quinnipiac (23-4-5, 16-1-3 ECAC) led 3-1 with under three minutes left in regulation, before the Bears scored twice in the final 2:16 of regulation, including the game-tying goal with 52 seconds left to play.
“For sure, this is one that slipped away,” senior defenseman Zach Davies said. “When you have a two-goal lead with less than three minutes left and you can’t put it away, it leaves a pretty sour taste in your mouth.”
Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored scored twice for his third multiple goal game of the season. Senior Russell Goodman scored his sixth goal of the season, while also picking up an assist. Jeremy Langlois recorded his 96th career point on an assist on Goodman’s goal, while Bryce Van Brabant also added a helper.
With under three minutes left, Brown’s Dennis Robertson passed to Mark Naclerio on the right wing. Naclerio skated the puck into the zone and fed Jeff Ryan in the slot who carried the puck through two Bobcats defenders to the edge of the crease. Hartzell saved the initial shot, but Ryan corralled the rebound and poked it home to cut the deficit to one.
Quinnipiac rarely allows more than two goals in a game but that all changed just 1:23 later. With the extra attacker on the ice, Ryan dug the puck out of the corner and fed Matt Lorito at the bottom of the right faceoff circle. Lorito fired a quick shot on goal that Hartzell saved, but the bouncing puck was was whacked in by Chris Zaires in a scrum past Hartzell to tie the game at three with just 51 seconds left.
“The third goal, our center doesn’t help; our wings don’t support; our D don’t pick up sticks; it’s endless,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “It was sloppy on the whole.”
The Bobcats entered the game with the top defense in the nation by goals against, but Pecknold believed they did not play like a top-rated defense, especially in the final minutes.
“I am certainly disappointed in the outcome,” Pecknold said. “We struggled buying into the little things tonight. It was just sloppy. I think in the last month, we haven’t played our best hockey and Hartzell has been bailing us out. The guys just aren’t buying in like they did earlier in the year and we need to find a way to get them to recommit if we want to advance in the playoffs. The way we are playing right now, we are going to have a tough time getting out of the round after the bye.”
Quinnipiac scored just 2:32 into the game, when Brown lost control of the puck in the neutral zone. Van Brabant picked it up and fired a pass between three Brown defensemen to Samuels-Thomas just over center ice. Samuels-Thomas split the last two defenders and skated in on a breakaway. Samuels-Thomas deked left and then fired a wrist shot past Borelli glove slide.
Brown’s Richie Crowley picked off a Quinnipiac pass in the neutral zone and found Joe Prescott above the blue line. Prescott skated in on Hartzell all alone, deked backhand forehand before poking a shot five hole to tie the game at one.
Four minutes later the Bobcats answered with a power play goal. Davies one-timed the puck on goal where Borelli played it off his chest but Samuels-Thomas deflected the puck past Borelli for a 2-1 lead heading into the third period.
Just 29 seconds into the third, Goodman netted a rebound after Davies blast from the point that caromed off of Langlois’ leg before sliding through Borelli’s pads.
“Attention to detail is something we need to focus on,” Samuels-Thomas said. “When you’ve won as many games as we have, it’s human nature to take some things for granted. I think it’s showed up a little in our play. It’s not time to panic, but I think everything is easily corrected. It’s remembering what it is that made us a great team.”
The Bobcats play their final two games next weekend at Harvard and Dartmouth, then will have a first round playoff bye before returning to host a best-of-three quarterfinal series in Hamden the weekend of March 15.
“It’s a good eye-opener for us,” Pecknold said.