NORTH BRANFORD – Winning games at the Northford Ice Pavilion isn’t anything new for the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team. They’ve lost at Northford just once in the last year and have won all six ECACHL games played there.
Tonight’s win, however, might rank as one of the biggest the Bobcats have won at Northford as they topped No. 12 Cornell, 5-2, to move into first place in the ECAC standings. It marked the first time Quinnipiac (4-1-1 ECACHL, 7-3-2 overall) had defeated Cornell (4-2-0 ECACHL, 6-2-0 overall) in five meetings all-time.
“Beating big, established programs really builds some confidence,” forward David Marshall said. “It’s definitely a bonus for our team. I think a lot of young guys are really starting to follow and the older guys are stepping up when we need them to. It’s definitely paving the way for our team.”
The Bobcats have now defeated all 11 teams in the ECACHL at least once since joining the conference. Colgate and Cornell were the only teams that defeated Quinnipiac in both regular season meetings last season.
“It’s another big weekend, but I don’t think there are any weekends off in the league, top to bottom there’s a lot of parity,” forward Dan Travis said.
Quinnipiac got off to an uncharacteristically slow start, allowing the first goal for the first time in five games when Topher Scott beat Quinnipiac goalie Bud Fisher through the pads 6:46 into the first period with a power-play goal.
The Bobcats, who had 20 shots in the first period of Friday’s 3-1 win over Colgate, didn’t register their first shot tonight until the 10:39 mark when Travis scored to tie the score at 1-1.
“I was impressed with Cornell. They came out and took it to us in our rink and we were fortunate to hold it to 1-0,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “We got our legs under us and that first goal that tied it was huge for our confidence.”
Dan Henningson gave the Bobcats a lead they wouldn’t relinquish when he scored on the power play with 28.1 seconds left in the period. His shot from the point went through traffic and beat a screened Cornell goalie Troy Davenport (17 saves).
Marshall scored the game-winning goal midway through the second with Quinnipiac on the power play. John Doherty’s shot from the left point was blocked by traffic in front of the net and Marshall knocked in the rebound for his ninth goal of the season.
Cornell answered less than three minutes later, but Brandon Wong scored his team-leading tenth goal 7:19 into the third period to give the Bobcats a 4-2 lead. Wong intercepted a clearing pass and fired a shot from the left circle under the crossbar.
The goal extended Wong’s point streak to seven games. The freshman forward continues to lead the Bobcats in goals (10) and points (16).
“He has good hockey sense and I think that’s what helps him a lot,” Travis said. “He’s in the right spot at the right time. He finds a way to get the puck to the net and make some plays.”
Fisher, who has played in all 12 games this season, made 27 saves in goal for Quinnipiac. The sophomore got better as the game went on, making big back-to-back saves on Raymond Sawada and Taylor Davenport with four minutes left in the second and Cornell trailing by one goal.
“(Fisher) has definitely been the backbone of our team, especially this weekend,” Marshall said.
The Bobcats are on the road next weekend for a pair of ECACHL games. On Friday, Quinnipiac plays at last-place Harvard in a game that will be televised live on NESN. The Bobcats visit Dartmouth on Saturday.