Union downs men’s ice hockey to force Game 3

Michael Hewitt

Quinnipiac men’ ice hockey had a chance to end Union’s season in Game 2 of the ECAC Quarterfinals at High Point Solutions Arena on Saturday night.

The Bobcats faltered late, however, and were bested by the Dutchmen 3-2 on Michael Pontarelli’s game-winner with less than four minutes to go to force a decisive Game 3 on Sunday at 4 p.m.

“In the end, I thought it was a mediocre effort on our part,” Pecknold said. “I was disappointed on how some of our better players played tonight. Some of them were bad tonight.”

One night removed from Game 1, which lasted 106 minutes and 32 seconds, Pecknold thought fatigue was a factor in the outcome.

“You’re legs are tired and you have to be mentally tough. We needed to have more urgency and intensity,” he said.

Trailing for most of Game 1, the Bobcats either led or were tied for a majority of Game 2.

Sam Anas sent the puck in the back of the net twice with less than 90 seconds left to force overtime in Game 1, then started the scoring in Game 2. Anas poked one past Union goalie Colin Stevens on a pass in front of the net from Travis St. Denis to give the Bobcats an early advantage.

Quinnipiac’s 1-0 lead lasted only 27 seconds, however. Union’s Ryan Scarfo notched his 11th goal of the season to make it 1-1.

With the game even, Quinnipiac’s Bo Pieper set up an opportunity for teammate Matthew Peca. Peca, who had open space, sent one by Stevens to give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead over Union.

Quinnipiac held that lead late into the second period, but Union bounced back once again.

With 6:32 remaining in the second period, Dutchmen forward Max Novak rebounded his own shot and slid one past the glove of Gartieg to tie things 2-2.

With 3:53 remaining in the third period, Union’s Nick Cruice skated into the zone, found an open Michael Pontarelli, who’s game-winning one-timer slipped by Gartieg’s glove to even the series and extend Union’s season at least one more day.

Pecknold thought Quinnipiac’s defense gave Union too many chances.

“We didn’t cover on the first or third goal,” Pecknold said. “We literally didn’t cover guys. It’s not typical of how we play. They’re detailed, but they made two mistakes.”

Pecknold was also disappointed with his team’s preparation to eliminate Union’s season, but thinks tonight’s loss will be corrected.

“You got to be better than that to end someone’s season,” Pecknold said. “Union wants to keep playing. We were immature tonight. I trust our guys and love our room. There’s great character in our locker room. We’ve got competitive kids and we’ll play hard tomorrow.”

Quinnipiac and Union will battle in a decisive Game 3 tomorrow at 4 p.m. at the High Point Solutions Arena in Hamden.

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