Men’s ice hockey aims to sure up penalty kill unit as it hosts No. 5 Harvard on Friday, Dartmouth on Saturday

Men’s ice hockey aims to sure up penalty kill unit as it hosts No. 5 Harvard on Friday, Dartmouth on Saturday

Max Molski

It only took Cornell 11 minutes to jump ahead of No. 5 Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey by three goals in Ithaca, NY on Saturday. With just under nine minutes left in the second period, Cornell held onto a 4-1 lead. But as the Big Red would quickly find out, there was too much time on the clock to hold down this year’s undefeated Bobcats.

“The guys believe in each other,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “It’s nice when you always feel like you can come back and win.”

The Bobcats fell behind following a major penalty on freshman Thomas Aldworth. Cornell proceeded to do something that had not been done against Quinnipiac all season: score a power-play goal.

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The Big Red converted on the advantage with two power play goals in the first five minutes of play. After Sam Anas went to the box for a tripping penalty, Cornell scored a third power-play goal to pull ahead 3-0.

Although it took until the eighth game for the Bobcats to concede a goal on the penalty kill, Pecknold said that the system has been a persisting issue.

“[The penalty kill] hasn’t been good all season. The numbers have been good,” Pecknold said. “We’ve had multiple breakdowns and [goalie Michael] Garteig has bailed us out. I think it has been an issue all year.”

Tim Clifton, who salvaged the period for the Bobcats with his fourth goal on the season, agreed that there were holes in the penalty kill.

“We didn’t kill as well as a group, as we usually do,” Clifton said. “We kind of just fell apart there; I guess that is a good way to put it. We weren’t ready to go.”

Cornell regained a three-goal lead midway through the second period with a goal from Mitch Vanderlaan. However, the goal set of a spree of Quinnipiac goals to end the period.

Travis St. Denis scored just 1:30 after Vanderlaan. Then, Andrew Taverner took over the end of the period with two goals en route to a four-point night. In a matter of minutes, Quinnipiac turned a three-goal deficit into domination.

After a Cornell penalty at the end of the scoreless third period, Quinnipiac entered overtime with a man advantage. Just after the power play expired, the Bobcats capped off their greatest comeback in 16 years.

“I got on the ice with Priskie, Tavs (Andrew Taverner) was playing well all game, picked up his fourth point on that goal, actually,” Connor Clifton said. “We win a faceoff, Priskie gets it to me, give it to Tavs, right back to me, and I just put it on net. It was a great screen by Tim (Clifton), it hit a defenseman, and it went it.”

The 3848 people packed inside Lynah Arena, Cornell’s home rink and one of the rowdiest places Quinnipiac plays according to a number of players, went still.

“It’s always fun to win on the road,” captain Soren Jonzzon said, “And it’s always a pretty cool feeling to hear another team’s arena go silent after you score.”

The Bobcats moved up one spot to No. 4 in the USCHO.com poll following their road victories at Colgate and Cornell.

Although the Bobcats have overcome two multi-goal deficits in the young season, they face their biggest test Friday night as they host No. 5 Harvard.

The Crimson topped the 2015 ECAC Hockey Preseason Coaches’ Poll and are 3-0-1 after tying Yale and defeating Brown this past weekend. Senior Kyle Criscuolo and freshman Ryan Donato lead Harvard with three goals apiece while junior Sean Malone has five assists through the team’s first four games.

It was Harvard that knocked Quinnipiac out of the ECAC Tournament last season with a 5-2 victory in the semifinals. Despite the daunting game ahead, the team believes it has the momentum to match up against any opponent.

“Harvard is an unbelievable team, obviously,” Connor Clifton said. “We need to be ready for them and the Cornell game is definitely a nice confidence-booster and reminder to us that no matter what happens, no matter what adversity we face throughout the 60 minutes of the game, we’re never out of it.”

“We definitely feel that going into every game we should be the top dog and we should be the one taking it to the other team rather than adjusting to other teams,” Jonzzon said.

The Bobcats will follow up the Harvard game with a bout against Dartmouth on Saturday night.

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