Men’s ice hockey heads out west to Colorado

Doug Manners

The thin air of Colorado and Olympic-sized ice surface of the World Arena were not kind to the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team. Backstopped by superb goaltending, the Bobcats kept the game close through two periods, but a barrage of third-period goals led to a 7-2 win for No. 11 ranked Colorado College on Saturday night.

The loss was Quinnipiac’s first on the young season, which started two weekends ago with a pair of wins at the Quinnipiac Cup tournament. The Bobcats were soundly outshot in Saturday’s game, 52-18, as Colorado College used the large ice surface to its advantage. World Arena is 15 feet wider than Quinnipiac’s home ice at the Northford Ice Pavilion.

“It’s a real disadvantage for us. Within our league, we’re an average skating team,” Head Coach Rand Pecknold said. “Colorado College builds their team for this rink and their league. [The WCHA] is a high energy, high skating league.”

The Bobcats dug themselves an early hole with penalties. And despite killing 17 consecutive power plays last weekend, Quinnipiac could not keep the Tigers’ explosive power-play unit off the scoreboard. The Tigers scored a pair of goals on the man advantage in the first period to go ahead 2-0.

First, Tiger captain Mark Stuart snapped a wrist shot from the point through traffic and beat senior goaltender Jamie Holden, of Telkwa, British Columbia, 3:55 into the game. Then, with 4:16 remaining in the period, Lee Sweatt blasted a slap shot through another screen.

“[Colorado College] has one of the best power plays in the country and you can’t give them opportunities,” Pecknold said. “We gave them four power plays in a row and they were all stupid penalties. We got what we deserved.”

The Tigers used a late second-period goal to go ahead 3-0. Colorado College could have put the game away in the second period, but Holden stopped 22 of 23 shots to keep the score respectable. Through the first 40 minutes, the Tigers held a commanding 38-8 advantage in shots.

“I think the score could have been 9-2 or 10-2. Holden was awesome early in the game,” Pecknold said. “We really got pounded tonight. It was embarrassing.”

Quinnipiac pulled to within two with a two-on-one goal 1:47 into the third period. Senior Matt Craig, of London, Ontario, skated down the right wing and fed a pass to senior Chris White, of Santa Ana, Calif. White then put a shot past Tiger goaltender Matt Zaba from inside the left face-off circle for his first goal of the season.

But the Tigers answered less than four minutes later and went on to score four goals in a span of 9:23 on junior goalie Josh Siembida, of Porcupine, Ontario. Siembida replaced Holden at the start of the third period, stopping 10 of 14 shots in his first regular season game with Quinnipiac.

The Bobcats scored a power play goal with nine seconds left in the game. Senior Rob Hammel, of Pittsburgh, Penn., took a pass from White and knocked the puck past Zaba at the left post. Freshman defenseman Mark Van Vliet, of Dorchester, Ontario, picked up an assist on the goal for his second point of the night.

The Bobcats play at Dartmouth College on Saturday in their only game of the week. Dartmouth is the lone ECAC team on Quinnipiac’s schedule this season. Next season, the Bobcats will replace the University of Vermont in the ECAC. Saturday’s game starts at 7:00 p.m. and is scheduled to be televised live on the New England Sports Network (NESN).