Men’s ice hockey beats RPI behind three power-play goals

Michael Dalton

No. 5/7 Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey defeated the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Engineers, 4-1, on Friday night at High Point Solutions Arena.

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The Bobcats jumped out in front early when Tanner MacMaster scored 4:27 into the game, the only goal in the first period. When the first period reached its halfway point, penalties began to rain down for both sides. Within a 10-minute span, the referees called eight penalties. At one point, there were four people in the penalty box for each team. Even though each team received four man advantage opportunities, neither side was able to capitalize on the power play in the first. During the second period, nine penalties were called between the Bobcats and the Engineers, and the score remained 1-0 through the scoreless frame. RPI responded early in the third period off a Jared Wilson wrist shot that passed Quinnipiac goaltender Chris Truehl on the stick side. Quinnipiac responded with three goals of its own, each coming on the power play. “We adapted and adjusted,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I give both units credit. We executed on the rush, in the zone, we got some good looks and they finally put one in the net for us.”

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Tim Clifton was the first to score on the power play, knocking one in less than three minutes after RPI’s game-tying goal. Bo Pieper and Luke Shiplo then padded the Bobcats’ lead with power-play goals of their own. Tim Clifton’s brother, senior captain Connor Clifton, was serving a one-game suspension for an illegal hit in the team’s previous game against Vermont. Despite Connor Clifton’s absence, the defensive corps for the Bobcats stepped up. “[Connor Clifton] probably logs the most minutes out of any of our guys. It was a big loss,” Pecknold said. “He does so much for us. I think he’s one of the better defensemen in our league.” Offensively, the Bobcats controlled the puck throughout the game. RPI only managed to get 15 shots on goal, while Quinnipiac fired 51. Even though RPI surrendered four goals, goaltender Cam Hackett made 47 saves for the Engineers, including a 2-on-1 chance for the Bobcats, in which Hackett slid across the crease to make a flashy glove save. The Bobcats weren’t too surprised with the high number of penalties that were called, with the two teams combining for 44 penalty minutes. “There’s been a lot of penalties every game in the ECAC this year. We were ready for it, but you can’t really prepare for that,” right winger Landon Smith, who finished with three assists on the night, said.

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Quinnipiac may have been called for eight penalties, and they were able to kill off all of them.   “The most you can ask for is a really good power play and penalty kill,” Smith said. “If both those things are going, then we’ll be fine.” Next, the Bobcats will host the Union Dutchmen on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Hamden.