Crusaders conquer ‘Cats in Atlantic Hockey showdown at Fleet Center

William Dawson III

A small crowd was scattered throughout the black and yellow seats. As a matter of fact, the crowd could very well have been doubled and there would still have been myriad of available seats for this Atlantic Hockey match-up.

The abundance of elbow room did not diminish the fact that the Quinnipiac Men’s Hockey team was playing in the Fleet Center Skating on ice that normally accommodates the likes of Joe Thornton, Andrew Raycroft, and even Ray Bourque, the Bobcats welcomed the opportunity to flash their “Blades of Steel,” circa 1992 nintendo style.

Coming into the game, the Bobcats were riding the momentum of a seven game winning streak. However, that momentum was halted by the swarming play of Holy Cross.

The Crusaders came out looking to establish and sustain pressure in the Quinnipiac zone, and that is just what they did. QU goalie Jamie Holden was peppered with shots early and often, allowing two goals in the first 20 minutes of action.

Despite Holy Cross’ early surge, the Bobcat offense did what it could to support its net-minder, out-shooting the Crusaders 23 to 13 in the period. The Bobcats’ lone goal came with 7:25 remaining in the period as freshman forward Ben Nelson poked a dribbling puck past Holy Cross’ goaltender Ben Conway.

The second period played out much like the first with Holy Cross keeping continuous pressure in the Quinnipiac zone and disrupting the Bobcat offense before it could establish anything outside its blue line. By the end of the period, the Crusaders had matched their first quarter output and extended the Bobcat deficit to three goals.

Midway through the third period, it was clear that the Crusaders were under the Bobcats’ fur. Tempers flared as the Bobcats sensed their seven game win streak was coming to an end. The Bobcats were penalized three times in the third period, effectively killing any shot they had at a late rally.

The penalties included boarding, cross-checking and hooking, all of which showed Quinnipiac’s frustrations. The Crusaders were also penalized three times in the third period, but the Bobcats were unable to capitalize on these opportunities.

It was a microcosm of the day’s events when Michael Bordieri missed an empty top right corner of the net in the third period and Holy Cross immediately forced the puck into the Quinnipiac zone, scoring just seconds later on a three-on-one breakaway.

Simply put, it was not the Bobcat’s day to shine. Though they never gave up, their inability to shatter the stone wall otherwise known as Cross goalie Ben Conway was the story of the day. The goalie notched 40 saves on the way to victory.

At the other end of the ice, Bobcat goalie Jamie Holden turned away 36 shots, but it was the 5 that slipped by him that made the difference in the game. Obviously, Holden cannot wear the goat horns after this loss as it was just a bad day for the entire team.

Regardless of the final score, the fact the Bobcats played a game in such a major venue illustrates the program’s success in its climb from obscurity to a legit Division-1 contender.