Just over a minute had passed in Friday’s men’s ice hockey game against Harvard. Athletic Director Jack McDonald was in the downstairs corridors of the Hartford Civic Center with President John Lahey and legendary hockey player Gordie Howe when he heard a noise. He wondered, could Quinnipiac have scored already?
“We all ran out and looked at the scoreboard – 1-0 Quinnipiac,” McDonald said. “I thought, ‘Great, the night’s a success. Maybe we can hang in there’.”
But the night was just beginning for the Bobcats, who added four more goals to defeat 15th ranked Harvard, 5-2, in Quinnipiac’s inaugural ECAC game. A Quinnipiac home record crowd of 5,049 attended the game, with most of the Quinnipiac students sporting their gold Crazy Bobcat t-shirts and banging thundersticks.
“With the adrenalin and the emotion that came with this whole week, and the whole year, there was such a build up to this as an event,” junior defenseman Reid Cashman said. “For us to come out and get that first win under the belt, it’s just a huge a relief.”
Quinnipiac has been a powerhouse team at the Division I level in the MAAC and Atlantic Hockey conferences. But ever since the Bobcats were accepted into the ECAC in August of last year, one question had lingered: how soon would it take Quinnipiac to compete in a more challenging conference such as the ECAC?
If Friday’s game was any indication of the future, the answer might be sooner than many had expected.
“That was the biggest win in the program’s history,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “Once we settled down in the second period, I really felt that we had a shot at this thing.”
After a tentative first period in which Quinnipiac was outshot 15-5, the Bobcats settled down and took a two-goal lead with a pair of goals in the second. First, at 2:19, sophomore Ben Nelson was parked at the left post and knocked in Cashman’s shot from the point. The goal came four seconds after a Quinnipiac five-on-three man advantage had expired.
Midway through the period, freshman David Marshall scored off a face-off to the right of Harvard goalie Justin Tobe for his second goal of the game. Marshall went to the net with the puck and put it between Tobe’s pads.
“I got a lucky chip on it and I guess the puck had eyes,” Marshall said. “With that goal, I think we got some energy back and we didn’t look back from there.”
The Crimson scored two minutes into the third period to cut the Bobcats’ lead to 3-2. But with 5:04 left in the period and Quinnipiac on a five-on-three power play, sophomore Mark Van Vliet finished off a nice passing play in the right circle. He took a feed from Cashman in the high slot and snapped a shot past Tobe, who was still scrambling to get back into position.
“We really just wanted to get shots. We got shots and they started running around, diving in front of pucks,” Cashman said. “Van Vliet was on the back door and I did the easy part. I just laid it out there and he buried it.”
Freshman goalie Bud Fisher made 35 saves for the Bobcats and played a critical part in Quinnipiac’s penalty kill, which went 11-for-12.
“Your best penalty killer is your goalie, and Bud did a great job of not only making saves, but controlling rebounds,” Pecknold said.
The Bobcats scored their first ECAC goal on their first shot of the game. Rookie forward Chris Meyers’ shot deflected off the glass and landed in the right circle, where Marshall picked up the puck and fired it into the half-empty net at 1:12.