Men’s ice hockey ready to host Boston University

Men's ice hockey ready to host Boston University

Max Molski

The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team rose to No. 2 in the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll after 3-0 victories at Yale and Brown this past weekend.

Goaltender Michael Garteig made headlines on Dec. 4 at Yale when his 22-save effort put him on top of Quinnipiac’s all-time wins list. He then came back the following night to earn the program’s longest scoreless streak in the third period against Brown.

Although Garteig made his way through the Quinnipiac record books over the past weekend, the Bobcats also saw players take strides on the offensive end.

Tim Clifton scored the team’s first goal in both of its victories last weekend. The two-goal weekend brought Clifton to ten on the year, the most of any Bobcat. Clifton says he did not expect to be the team’s leading scorer when his junior campaign began.

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“I never thought that would be my role, I guess,” Clifton said, “But it’s kind of been just thrust upon me more or less.”

Throughout the season, Clifton has said that he has been scoring goals as a result of being in the right place at the right time. However, Quinnipiac associate head coach Bill Riga says that Clifton has worked on putting himself in goal scoring situations.

“[Clifton] is the guy who goes to the front of the net, bangs home rebounds, pays the price, screens the goalie,” Riga said. “He’s figured that out in his two-plus years here that that’s where he’s successful.”

Clifton was not the only Bobcat with two goals on the weekend. Landon Smith scored a goal in both the Yale and Brown games for his third and fourth goals on the season, all of them coming on the road. Smith’s 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) is the lowest on the Bobcats’ first line. Line-mate Sam Anas has accumulated 18 points (9 goals, 9 assists) while Travis St. Denis has 17 (8 goals, 9 assists). Smith says that the line is continuing to improve as the team hits the midseason mark.

“I think we are starting to develop some chemistry [as a line],” Smith said. “I think we kind of understand what each other is thinking. I think as the year progresses, that is only going to get better.”

The Bobcats are now 15-0-2 on the season. The 17-game unbeaten streak is the sixth longest in to start a season in the NCAA since 1970. The players say that they are taking their season one game at a time and managing the pressure that comes with being an undefeated team.

“I think the team has been really good about [knowing we’re undefeated] this year, not really thinking it about it like that,” Smith said. “Each game is a new game and we don’t really think about it as we haven’t lost. We think about it more as we need to win this one.”

“We’re taking everything business as usual, you know, another day at the office,” Clifton said.

The team will put its unbeaten record on the line Saturday night when it hosts No. 12 Boston University, the runner-up in last season’s Frozen Four. Danny O’Regan leads the Terriers with 19 points (5 goals, 14 assists) while Ahti Oksanen leads the team with 9 goals and a +9 plus/minus. In goal, Connor LaCouvee has a 2.71 goals allowed average and has a .911 save percentage in his 13 games played.

The Terriers are 8-6-3 on the season, but have struggled outside of their home rink, Agganis Arena. The team is only a combined 1-4-2 in away and neutral games with the lone win against Northeastern, a team that is 2-12-3 on the year.

Saturday night’s matchup with be the first between Quinnipiac and Boston University. Although the Terriers are coming in as the reigning national runners-up, Riga says that his team is the top dog in Saturday’s meeting.

“They had a great year last year, tons of talent, tons of draft picks,” Riga said. “But we need to realize that we’re second in the country and they’re trying to knock us off.”

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