The No. 16 Rensselaer men’s ice hockey team put No. 1 Quinnipiac in a familiar position on Thursday night: a two-goal deficit. Rensselaer took a 2-0 lead on Quinnipiac with about 15 minutes left in regulation.
Yet, for the second time in a week, the Bobcats climbed back from a deficit to salvage a point, this time in a matchup between the top seeds in the ECAC standings. Captain Soren Jonzzon started the comeback before Sam Anas put in the equalizer with 9.4 seconds left in regulation to make it a 2-2 final.
“We’ve done it all year,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “It’s a confident team. We’ve done it this week and we’ve done it multiple times this year, so we feel like we’re never out of a game.”
Rensselaer broke the scoring late in the second period. A number of players on both teams crowded the goal in front of Quinnipiac goaltender Michael Garteig before Zach Schroeder knocked the puck in for his third goal on the season.
The Engineers doubled their lead early in the third period, as Mark Miller knocked a puck in with his upper body off a pass from Milos Bubela for his fifth goal of the season.
After two goals put the Bobcats behind with 15 minutes left, the top team in the nation flipped the switch that has helped it overcome multi-goal deficits all season.
“It’s an easy game to say ‘Oh, well, they got two ugly ones. Things weren’t bouncing our way and our goalie played well,’” Jonzzon said. “We could’ve called it a night but we were able to battle back and at least get one point out of the night.”
Jonzzon went ahead and gave Quinnipiac its first goal just 31 seconds after Miller put in his. Tim Clifton won a faceoff to the left of Rensselaer goaltender Jason Kasdorf and put it on Jonzzon’s stick. The Bobcats’ captain fired a wrist shot past Kasdorf for his fourth goal of the season and his first since Dec. 6 against Brown.
“It’s always nice to get off a little bit of a schneid there,” Jonzzon said. “I haven’t scored since Brown and it’s always good when I can chip in and get a goal here and there.”
Jonzzon’s goal did not just knock him off the schneid. Pecknold noticed a change in momentum once the Bobcats finally got in the board.
“We had great legs after that,” Pecknold said. “That gave the bench some energy. I thought the game switched momentum at that point.”
For the second game in a row, Quinnipiac had a power play advantage in the final minutes of regulation. On Thursday, it was Rensselaer’s Jared Wilson that went to the penalty box for slashing to create the Bobcats’ power play with 3:01 remaining.
The Bobcats entered the next faceoff with six skaters as Pecknold pulled Garteig from the net. On Tuesday, Pecknold pulled Garteig after a Maine penalty at with 2:02 on the clock. The Quinnipiac coach said that he does not he does not go by the conventional philosophy with pulling the goalie.
“I think it’s a different mindset,” Pecknold said. “The old mindset is you pull your goalie at one minute. I don’t agree with that.”
Quinnipiac’s six-man attack paid off once again against Rensselaer. In the final seconds of the game, the puck was bouncing around Kasdorf before Anas poked his team-leading 15th goal into the net with 9.4 seconds left.
“It’s just chaos in front of the net,” Anas said. “I saw the puck there and gave it a whack with my backhand and hoped for the best. I saw the ref point and figured it was in. I was pretty excited.”
The Bobcats nearly came out of the game with a victory. Travis St. Denis was left wide open for a shorthanded breakaway with 30 seconds left in the game. Yet, Kasdorf made perhaps the most important save of his 46 on the night and kept St. Denis out of the net to preserve the 2-2 final.
The draw keeps the distance between Quinnipiac and Rensselaer at the top of the ECAC standings. Rensselaer went to 5-1-6 in the conference standings while Quinnipiac stands at 10-0-3 and maintains its seven-point lead over Rensselaer in the standings.
The No. 1 Bobcats return to the ice on Jan. 29 when they go to Hanover, N.H. to face the 8-8-1 (5-5-0 ECAC) Dartmouth Big Green.
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