It took five games, but the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team finally found its first ECAC win of the season with a 5-0 victory over Brown on Friday night at the Frank Perrotti, Jr. Arena.
[media-credit id=2228 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]While the the Bobcats’ well-rounded effort was on display against the Bears, two players in particular earned notable individual achievements. Sophomore goalie Andrew Shortridge stopped all 22 shots he faced for his second career shutout, while senior forward Landon Smith netted his third career hat trick.
The game’s first period showcased a more consistent brand of Quinnipiac hockey as the Bobcats controlled play and outshot the Bears 14-5.
Smith’s first goal of the night — the eventual game-winner — came on the power play at 12:03 in the first period, when junior defenseman John Furgele threw a near-perfect pass-off-pad on goal. The intentional shot for a rebound found Smith, who made no mistake putting the puck in the net.
About two minutes later, sophomore defenseman Brogan Rafferty fired a shot on net that Smith was able to tip past Brown goalie Luke Kania for his second of the night and a 2-0 lead going into the second period.
Just 2:27 into the second frame of play, senior forward Tanner MacMaster found himself all alone on a breakaway. His move to go backhand and five-hole was stopped by Kania, but Smith scooped up the rebound for an easy tap-in to complete the natural hat trick and increase Quinnipiac’s lead to 3-0.
[media-credit id=2200 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]“Sometimes the puck goes in and sometimes it doesn’t,” Smith said. “Tonight was the night it went in.”
Just under six minutes later, Quinnipiac converted on its second consecutive power play opportunity to make it a 4-0 game. Junior defenseman captain Chase Priskie corralled a pass from senior forward Bo Pieper and rifled a wrist shot over the shoulder of Kania for his fifth goal of the season.
While the four-goal lead was Quinnipiac’s largest of the season, the Bobcats didn’t stop there.
At 14:18 into the second period, MacMaster kept the Bobcats offense rolling. On a developing 2-on-1 rush, MacMaster went hard to the net, while Smith lasered a pass onto his tape for MacMaster’s third of the season.
“He’s really good,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said of Smith’s effort. “Three goals, had a nice play on the assist too [setting] up [MacMaster] there for the goal, so he played great.”
While Quinnipiac had trouble in the past, in terms of hanging onto leads going into the third period, tonight was different. The Bobcats blocked six of their 15 total blocked shots in the third period alone, doing as much as they could to help Shortridge earn the shutout.
With just over a minute left in the third, senior defenseman assistant captain Kevin McKernan took a hooking penalty, putting the shutout in jeopardy. However, two big shot blocks from Rafferty and senior forward Kevin Duane, not only had the Quinnipiac bench vocal in support, but also helped Shortridge secure the shutout and more importantly the win.
Despite the chaos surrounding a penalty late in the game, Shortridge didn’t let the situation faze him.
[media-credit id=2200 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]“I just keep my head down, stay engaged, stay in the moment,” Shortridge said of the late penalty kill. “The only thing that matters to me is that we get the win. Anything else is just noise.”
Next up, the season’s first ‘Battle of Whitney Ave.’ comes to Hamden, when the Bobcats welcome Yale to the Frank Perrotti, Jr. Arena in hopes of creating a winning streak.
“We need to play to our identity and I think we did that tonight,” Pecknold said. “We tell our guys all the time, ‘If we do that, then we’ll get our reward,’ and we did.”