Men’s ice hockey wins physical exhibition game against McGill

Justin Cait

Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey opened the 2016-17 season with a 2-1 exhibition win over Montreal, Quebec’s McGill University Redmen in Hamden on Saturday night.

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“Today was our first official day of practice, so obviously we’re a bit rusty, but the effort was good,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “There were a lot of positives and certainly a lot of things that we need to work on.”

After a chippy start to the first, the Bobcats opened the scoring 14:43 into the first period when K.J. Tiefenwerth redirected a Connor Clifton point shot into the net. The hard-nosed play by Tiefenwerth is exactly what Quinnipiac wanted in its offensive zone tonight.

“We wanted bodies in front for tip-ins; K.J. [Tiefenwerth] made a perfect play,” captain Connor Clifton said. “He goes to the net hard, tips it, puck goes in and we score a goal.”

Although the Bobcats managed to score in this instance, goals were hard to come by from this point on. Despite the 11 shots thrown at the Redmen’s way in the opening period, McGill goaltender Louis-Philippe Guindon turned away all but one.

On Quinnipiac’s end, freshman goalie Andrew Shortridge made all four saves in his first period start. His first collegiate action was short lived in an effort to get all three goaltenders equal time in net, but that did not stop Coach Pecknold from praising the goalies’ collective efforts.

“I think Shortridge did a nice job with a shutout in the first,” Pecknold said. “They all played well when they were tested.”

However, just 53 seconds into the second period of play, senior goaltender Sean Lawrence saw a quick one-timer from McGill’s Guillaume Gauthier find twine behind him to even the score at 1-1.

While the game did not see any goals for a stretch, players kept finding their way to the penalty box. In the second period alone, the Redmen took 27 penalty minutes. The majority came from Jerome Varrier, who earned a five-minute major penalty and 10-minute game misconduct for a dirty elbow to the head of Quinnipiac’s Tommy Schutt.

“We want to play hard, we want to play tough and unfortunately all of the stuff after the whistle was disappointing,” Pecknold added. “We don’t need that, but it’s life. It’s part of hockey and it happens once in a while.”

Just two minutes after the penalty-filled second period, the closing frame of play started with yet another major penalty. This time, McGill’s Alexandra Sills got the gate for an ugly hit on Quinnipiac’s Thomas Aldworth.

While the Bobcats struggled on the power play earlier in the game, junior transfer Kevin Duane found Landon Smith on a two on one, who made no mistake finding the back of the net to give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead five minutes into the third.

While Smith’s scoring touch ultimately gave Quinnipiac the goal, he commends his teammates for the eventual game winner.

“Tanner MacMaster made a really nice play to Kevin Duane, then [Duane] made a really nice pass to me backdoor,” Smith said. “I really didn’t do much, credit goes to both of those guys. It’s not my goal. It’s theirs.”

The goal was one of Quinnipiac’s 40 total shots on goal, 24 more than its opponent.

Junior transfer goaltender Chris Truehl was perfect in the third, stopping all seven Redmen shots to give Quinnipiac its first exhibition win of the 2016-17 season.

Pecknold made it clear that this was not his team’s best game, but found light in the character shown in the season’s first win.
“I thought our character came through tonight. Again, it wasn’t pretty, but it’s Oct. 1,” Pecknold said. “Our captains did a really good job of leading us today, they did a good job preparing for the game and played well for us.”