The Quinnipiac University Men’s Hockey team struggled to find their stride for most of Tuesday night’s game against American International College. Fortunately for Rand Pecknold’s squad they were able to find their stride and the back of the net in time to down AIC.
That time was 9:49 in the third period when junior forward David Marshall fired home to bring the score to 3-2 and give the Bobcats their ninth straight win over AIC in front of 2560 fans at the TD Banknorth Center.
“We’ve been a little shaky from the last couple weekends,” Marshall said. “But we’ve prided ourselves on good leadership.” The Buffalo, Minn. native also added an assist in the game.
Ben Nelson chipped in a goal and an assist; Brian Leitch notched his team leading third goal and goalie Peter Vetri made 15 saves to earn the victory. With the win, the Bobcats get their record back to .500 ahead of this weekend’s opening ECAC games against Colgate and Cornell.
Though there was a difference of 45 places between Quinnipiac and AIC in the pre-season Inside College Hockey power poll, the two teams were evenly match through most of the game.
The Bobcats missed a golden scoring opportunity early on in the game. Jean Marc Beaudoin sent a cross-ice pass to line-mate Brendan Wong who settled the puck but could not find the open net
Just under eight minutes later, the Quinnipiac notched their first goal of the evening when junior left winger Leitch tipped a Marshall backhand pass past AIC goalie Tom Fenton for his team-high third goal of the season. Marshall took a feed from Nelson and fought off pressure from an AIC defenseman to get the puck to Leitch and give the team the lead.
The lead would not last for long. Forty-five seconds later AIC leveled the score at one a piece after freshman forward Steve McLeod beat Vetri for his first collegiate goal. T.J. Smith and Chris Bolognino assisted on the goal.
QU would re-take the lead in the middle of the second period courtesy of a Ben Nelson power-play goal. After Yellow Jacket forward Mike Field was called for tripping, Dan Henningson received a cross-ice pass from fellow alternate captain Matt Sorteberg and fired a slap shot from the top of the right circle that deflected off of Nelson and into the goal. The goal came at 11:26 and marked Nelson’s second tally in the young season and added to his team-leading point total which now stands at five.
AIC started of the third period with a quick goal to even the score. AIC took advantage of a Quinnipiac defensive miscue and tied the game only 17 seconds into the period. QU freshman Zach Hansen lost his footing behind his goal and Yellow Jacket captain Jereme Tendler scored the equalizer off passes from Chris Campanale and Tomas Benovic who were credited with assists.
Quinnipiac took the lead for good when a series of quick accurate passes from Wong and former Florida Panther draft pick Dan Travis left the puck on the stick of junior Marshall who put home the game-winner on the power-play. Wong drew the penalty 1:23 earlier that eventually led to Marshall’s successful point-blank range effort.
The Bobcats weathered a late scare when Vetri was forced to make a pair of important saves after losing his stick. The latter was a glove-save off a shot from the edge of the goal crease.
“The puck kind of squirted through,” said Vetri, the former UMass-Lowell goaltender, “I took time and space away by putting my glove out and the guy shot it right at my glove.”
The Bobcats will begin ECAC play this weekend when they travel to northern New York to play Colgate on Friday night and Cornell on Saturday evening. The Saturday game in Ithaca marks the Bobcats first trip to Cornell’s storied Lynah Rink since last March when the Bobcats swept the Big Red in the second round of the ECAC playoffs.
The Bobcats may be without last year’s starting goalie Bud Fisher for the weekend tilts. Fisher missed tonight’s contest with an injury. However Marshall remained confident of his team’s chances.
“I think we’re just going to play 60 minutes both nights this weekend and hopefully come out with two wins,” Marshall said.