Breakdowns cost men’s hockey a point

Doug Manners

POSTED 12/8/06 AT 11:11 P.M.

NORTH BRANFORD – The best and worst that the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team has to offer was on display during Friday night’s 4-4 tie against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at the Northford Ice Pavilion.

The Bobcats (7-4-4 overall, 4-2-3 ECACHL) showed that they’re one of the most dangerous teams in the ECACHL offensively, firing 53 shots-on-goal while scoring goals on the power play, shorthanded and at even-strength.

They also proved that they’re a vulnerable team defensively, allowing three unanswered goals in a span of 5 minutes, 5 seconds in the third period to erase a three-goal lead.

“We’re not very good defensively. All we do is coach it and coach it,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “It’s not like it’s all freshmen out there making mistakes. It’s veteran guys giving up breakaways.”

Quinnipiac took a 4-1 lead 4:34 into the third period just 15 seconds after RPI defenseman Jake Luthi was whistled for a five-minute cross-checking penalty. Jamie Bates knocked in a rebound for his second goal of the game.

The trouble for the Bobcats began a minute later when David Marshall was penalized two minutes for holding. With his team trailing by three goals and the teams skating at 4-on-4, RPI head coach Seth Appert pulled goalie Mathias Lange for an extra attacker.

The gamble paid off when Seth Klerer redirected a shot from the point past Bobcats goalie Bud Fisher at 7:15 to cut Quinnipiac’s lead to 4-2.

“You want to create a spark, you want to put the other team on their heels a little bit and do something to change the momentum,” Appert said of his decision to pull Lange. “It was in the back of my mind, but you obviously always hesitate to pull the goalie when there’s over ten minutes to go in the game.”

Just over a minute after Klerer’s goal, RPI scored a shorthanded goal. Defenseman Reid Cashman’s shot from the left point went wide of the net and ricocheted off the glass. RPI forward Paul Kerins picked up the loose puck at his own blue line and skated in alone on Fisher, beating him blocker-side with a backhand shot.

“We had said in the locker room after the first period that they were sending a guy long on the penalty kill trying to get that play,” Pecknold said. “I tell our guys that and boom, there’s a breakaway. I’m embarrassed.”

The Bobcats took a time-out after that goal, but the Engineers tied the game at 12:20 when Matt Angers-Goulet tipped a shot from the slot past Fisher (19 saves) on the power play.

Quinnipiac held an 8-0 advantage in shots in the overtime period, but Lange turned aside a shot from Bryan Leitch on a partial breakaway with 11 seconds left to preserve the tie for RPI.

“We’re pretty frustrated. We were all over them all night and had them just where we wanted them,” Bates said. “We kept letting them hang around, a couple stupid plays here and there and it’s a 4-4 game.”

Brandon Wong scored a shorthanded breakaway goal in the first period for his team-leading 11th goal of the season. Fellow freshman Jean-Marc Beaudoin had a goal in the second period for Quinnipiac, which hosts Union tomorrow night in its last game until Jan. 4.