Men’s hockey holds off Union for victory

Doug Manners

Putting teams away in the third period has been a major problem that has plagued the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team in its inaugural season in the ECAC. Of the Bobcats’ 12 ECAC losses, they had a lead in the third period in four of them.

But on Friday night, Quinnipiac held onto a one-goal lead and added an empty-net goal late in the third to defeat Union, 3-1, before a sellout crowd of 1,750 at the Northford Ice Pavilion.

“I don’t think we played our best game, but we played well enough to win,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “Any time you can pull out a win, especially with the season we’ve had with (so many) one-goal losses, it’s good for the confidence.”

The Bobcats, who have lost eight games by one goal, were able to hold Union to just nine shots over the final 40 minutes to preserve the lead.

“We’ve been talking about it a lot,” freshman forward Chris Walsh said of the Bobcats’ problems with finishing teams off. “We’re young in the league and we’re learning to play 60 minutes.”

Quinnipiac shut down Union’s power play, limiting it to just four shots on six man advantage opportunities. The Bobcats had the best scoring opportunity on the Dutchmen’s final power play when defenseman Reid Cashman was stopped on a breakaway with three minutes left in regulation.

“We did a good job of rotating and blocked a lot of shots,” Pecknold said. “And, ultimately, your best penalty killer is your goalie, and Bud Fisher was very good.”

Freshman defenseman Matt Sorteberg scored 17 seconds into the game to give Quinnipiac a 1-0 lead. The sophomore defenseman took a pass from Ben Nelson and fired a slap shot from the top of the right circle that deflected off a Union defenseman.

Union tied the score midway through the period on a scramble in front of the net. Fisher made a stick save on the first shot, but Augie DiMarzo knocked the rebound past Fisher at 10:55.

Four minutes later, the Bobcats capitalized on a puck handling mistake by Union goalie Kris Mayotte. Quinnipiac senior Peter Alden intercepted Mayotte’s clearing pass from behind the net and sent a pass to Walsh, whose shot went into the net before Mayotte could get back into position.

“The second goal was huge. Alden went in aggressively and did a great job causing the turnover,” Pecknold said. “We were pretty fortunate to get out of the first up 2-1. We didn’t play very well.”

Quinnipiac, which allowed just three shots in a defensive-minded second period, had a goal disallowed with 1:26 left in the period when it was ruled that freshman forward Brian Leitch kicked the puck in at the right post.

Senior forward Joe Dumais scored into an empty net for the Bobcats with 23.5 seconds left in regulation, firing the puck from the neutral zone in front of the Union bench. Dumais, who has six goals on the season, has three goals in the last two games.

The win improved Quinnipiac’s record this season to 8-1 at the Northford Ice Pavilion, including 4-0 in ECAC games.