A team with 18 freshmen in its line-up did something that only three other teams have done in the last three years – defeat Quinnipiac at the Northford Ice Pavilion. Robert Morris University, in its first year as a Division I program, picked up three out of a possible four points in a non-conference two-game series with the Bobcats last weekend.
On Friday, the Colonials rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie Quinnipiac, 2-2. The following night Robert Morris scored three power play goals to defeat the
Bobcats, 5-2. The Bobcats will head into the 18-day winter break on a three-game winless skid and with a 5-7-2 record.
“From top to bottom, we were bad. We got outworked both nights,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “It’s a problem, but we have a little bit of a break here, and hopefully we can refocus for the second half of the year.”
The Colonials improved to 4-11-2 with all four wins having come against teams from Atlantic Hockey. They also joined Bentley, Mercyhurst and Iona as the only teams to defeat Quinnipiac in its last 50 home games. Since the start of the 2001-02 season, the Bobcats are 38-5-7 on home ice.
“(Robert Morris) probably would have been happy to leave here with one point,” Pecknold said. “When you’re that young, some weekends are good and some are bad. This obviously was a great weekend for them.”
Quinnipiac jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period of Friday’s game. Junior Aaron Ludwig, of Lampman, Saskatchewan, beat Colonials’ goalie Christian Boucher glove-side from the slot 7:48 into the game.
Just over four minutes later, senior Matt Craig, of London, Ontario., scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season. Sophomore defenseman Reid Cashman, of Red Wing, Minn., fired a shot on net from the point and Craig deflected the puck past Boucher to tally the power play goal.
But the Colonials would score the next two goals, with the game-tying goal coming at 8:47 of the third period with Robert Morris on the power play. The Bobcats held a 3-2 advantage in shots during five minutes of scoreless overtime hockey. It was the only period of the series in which Quinnipiac outshot the Colonials.
In Saturday’s game, the Bobcats fell behind early. Defenseman Jeff Gilbert opened the scoring for Robert Morris at 9:28 with a power play goal. Then, at 13:30, Kurt Wright scored on a breakaway just nine seconds after the Bobcats’ first man advantage of the night had expired.
Sean Berkstresser added another goal for the Colonials at 6:10 of the second period. Joe Federoff sent a pass across the slot to Berkstresser, who slid the puck past Quinnipiac senior goaltender Jamie Holden, of Telkwa, British Columbia.
With 8:02 left, Pecknold called a time-out and the Bobcats responded with a goal 26 seconds later. Craig scored from low in the right face-off circle with freshman Mark Van Vliet, of Dorchester, Ontario, picking up the only assist on the goal.
The resilient Colonials answered with 3:10 remaining in the period. Wright, one of two juniors on a team with no seniors, beat Holden glove-side with a wrist shot from the right face-off dot for his second goal of the night.
Quinnipiac pulled back to within two goals again with 10:27 left in the third period on a five-on-three goal. Freshman Jamie Bates, of Toronto, Ontario, beat Boucher with a low shot from inside the left face-off circle.
But the Colonials battled back again as sophomore Doug Conley tallied his second goal of the series just over two minutes later. The goal put Robert Morris ahead 5-2, and put the Bobcats away for good.
“That goal was a back-breaker,” Pecknold said. “We had a great stretch to start the third period. The guys felt it on the bench that we could get back in this game after we made it 4-2.
“But you have to give Robert Morris credit, every time we started coming back, they put us away.”