As the case has been all season, the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team had no trouble putting pucks in the net Friday night. The Bobcats scored four goals against Dartmouth and continue to lead the ECACHL in scoring by a wide margin.
But defensive lapses resulted in a 5-4 loss, Quinnipiac’s first loss in five games at the new TD Banknorth Sports Center.
“We just did not have a good defensive game in all three areas, goaltending, defense and forwards. We just didn’t do what we needed to do,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “We scored four goals and that’s enough to win a game.”
On two occasions Quinnipiac (14-10-5, 9-5-4 ECACHL) gave up two goals in under a minute. Dartmouth opened the game with a pair of goals 45 seconds apart in the first five minutes of the first period.
Then, just 12 seconds after the Bobcats pulled ahead 3-2 midway through the second on a Jean-Marc Beaudoin power-play goal, Dartmouth scored twice in a span of 20 seconds to take the lead.
T.J. Wyman got the equalizer at 9:06, flipping a backhand shot past Quinnipiac goalie Bud Fisher, and then Tanner Glass scored off a centering feed from the left wing.
“A big part of beating Dartmouth is stopping their transition game,” Pecknold said. “We had the puck on our sticks both times in the neutral zone and couldn’t get it deep.”
The Bobcats tied the game 8:22 into the third when David Marshall redirected Reid Cashman’s shot from the point past Dartmouth goalie Mike Devine (29 saves) on the power play. The assist was the 113th in Cashman’s career at Quinnipiac, tying him with Brian Herbert ’03 for the program record.
Dartmouth scored the game-winner two minutes later on the power play. Nick Johnson took a pass from behind the net and knocked the puck in at the left post with 9:41 left in the period. Fisher (21 saves) never saw the shot coming as he was looking for the puck over his other shoulder.
Since stealing a point for the Bobcats in a 2-2 tie against Harvard Jan. 30, Fisher has struggled, allowing four or more goals in three straight ECACHL games. Although Fisher allowed some weak goals Friday, the first goal beat him cleanly over his shoulder while the second and fourth went through his pads, Cashman said Quinnipiac’s defenders need to do a better job.
“Defensively we broke down too many times and gave up too many odd-man rushes. We left Bud on an island,” Cashman said. “The six [defenseman] need to do a better job of capping up and making plays.”
The game ended with a questionable officiating call that had Pecknold irate. The teams were at even-strength when Dartmouth shot the puck from its own end toward the empty net. The puck missed wide to the right and icing should have been whistled with about five seconds left.
For whatever reason, the linesman never blew his whistle and the clock continued to run. Pecknold stood on the boards screaming at the officials before jumping onto the ice to argue. Pecknold wouldn’t discuss the officiating at the post-game press conference.
The Bobcats were also hurt by the absence of their second-leading scorer, Jamie Bates, who missed the final two periods after being issued a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for hitting from behind late in the first period.
“That was a huge call in the game,” Pecknold said. “The guys that needed to step up and take his ice time did from an offensive standpoint, [but] you don’t know what would happen if we don’t lose him.”
The Bobcats play at Cornell and Colgate this weekend, with the latter being shown live on NESN at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. They return home next weekend to wrap up the regular season against the two top teams in the conference, St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
Quinnipiac is in third place with 22 points, but Cornell is just two points behind while fifth-place Dartmouth trails the Bobcats by three points.
The top four teams in the ECACHL earn a bye for the first round of the playoffs and host a quarterfinals series March 9-11. If the Bobcats finish 5th-8th, they would host a first-round series March 2-4.
“We’re awfully excited about the position we’re in going into the last four games of the year,” Cashman said.