When it comes to a matter of points and positioning in the standings, Sunday’s non-conference game against former Atlantic Hockey rival Holy Cross could hardly be considered a crucial game for the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team.
But since the Bobcats were playing their first game at the sold-out TD Banknorth Sports Center, head coach Rand Pecknold said he felt it was a must-win game.
“I feel a huge weight off my shoulders,” Pecknold said after the Bobcats used seven different scorers to defeat Holy Cross, 7-0. “Not only to have the game over, but the fact that we won it. Maybe I put the pressure on myself, but I felt that we had to win this hockey game.”
The Bobcats (12-8-4, 8-3-3 ECACHL) looked tentative early on, but after they opened the scoring in the second period they played like the free-wheeling, offensively-gifted team that is tied for second-place in the ECACHL.
“We were nervous to play in front of a crowd like this and have the expectations,” captain Reid Cashman said. “That first goal was a big one. Once we got that, we relaxed a bit and got back to our game.”
The fact that the first men’s hockey game at the new arena was played against Holy Cross was somewhat ironic. Holy Cross was one of four teams competing against Quinnipiac to gain acceptance into the ECACHL in 2004.
One of the main factors, if not the deciding factor, for Quinnipiac beating out Holy Cross was because it promised the league it would build a new arena.
Holy Cross (9-14-4, 8-9-4 Atlantic Hockey) has been one of the elite teams in Quinnipiac’s conference over the past few years, but is fighting with the middle of the pack this year.
After Matt Sorteberg scored a power-play goal on a screen shot from the right point at 6:27 of the second, the Crusaders looked outmatched as they struggled to deal with the Bobcats’ speed and physical presence.
“It’s something we emphasize all the time, but it’s not always something we’re great at,” Pecknold said about playing physical. “That was a big bonus for us today and we did take it to them physically.”
Two minutes after Sorteberg’s goal, the Bobcats scored a pair of shorthanded goals 21 seconds apart on the same Crusaders power play to take a 3-0 lead.
At 8:24, Eric Lampe took advantage of a 2-on-1 rush, keeping the puck as he cut through the slot and slid a backhander in. Then, Dan LeFort took a pass at center ice from Reid Cashman, skated in alone on Holy Cross goalie Ian Dams and flicked a wrist shot by him glove-side.
“Special teams are usually the key,” Cashman said. “To get two [shorthanded goals] in one power play was pretty impressive for us and that’s just a credit to our forwards driving hard to the net and making great plays.”
Bryan Leitch added another goal at 10:06 to make it 4-0, chasing Dams (16 saves) from the game as he redirected Dan Henningson’s shot from the point past the freshman goalie.
Jamie Bates scored a power-play goal 59 seconds into the third when he was left all alone at the left post. Mark Agnew and Greg Holt each had even-strength goals to cap the scoring.
It was a quiet afternoon for Bud Fisher, who only had to make 14 saves before Zach Kleiman came into to stop four shots in the final five minutes of the game.
“The crowd we had in here and the excitement was just amazing,” Fisher said. “It exceeded all expectations.”
HC PLAYER INJURED
Amid all the excitement and festivities at Sunday’s men’s hockey game, there was a serious incident midway through the first period when Holy Cross defenseman Jon Landry broke an ankle.
The two team physicians immediately rushed onto the ice to provide care, but Landry had to lay face-down on the ice in agonizing pain for over 20 minutes before members of the Hamden Fire Department carried him off on a stretcher. There was no ambulance at the arena when the injury occurred.
Quinnipiac spokeswoman Lynn Bushnell said in a statement, “It is our protocol to have an ambulance and emergency response team in place prior to all ice hockey and basketball contests. For reasons unclear to us, the contracted ambulance service was not present on site, as it had been yesterday prior to each game.”
Landry, a senior defenseman for the Crusaders, is third on the team with nine goals and is tied for second in points with 27.