No. 8 Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey falls to No. 1 UMass 3-1, head into break with a 14-3-0 record

Bryan Murphy

In front of a record-setting 8,412 crowd at Mullins Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, the No. 8 Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team fell 3-1 to No. 1 UMass on Saturday night.

UMass (13-3-0 overall, 7-0-0 Hockey East) avoided a sweep by Quinnipiac (14-3-0, 6-2-0 ECAC Hockey) by coming back in the third period from being down 1-0 and scoring three unanswered goals. UMass’ sophomore goalie Matt Murray made 27 saves to stay perfect with a 10-0-0 record. Quinnipiac’s sophomore goalie Keith Petruzzelli made 38 saves in the losing effort.

[media-credit id=2200 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]“I thought UMass was excellent tonight,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “They played hard, they were hungry…For us, we struggled mentally from the get-go. [Petruzzelli] was really good in net, [Bongiovanni} was pretty good. After that, we just struggled. Disappointed with the effort tonight, but have to give UMass credit, they were really good.”

In the first period, both goalies remained perfect with no goals allowed. However, UMass was the the much better team, outshooting Quinnipiac 13-8 and out chancing them.

After UMass’ sophomore forward Philip Lagunov received a tripping penalty, it was a familiar face wristing home a power play goal for Quinnipiac. Senior defenseman Chase Priskie faked a slapshot and then fired one past Murray for his 12th goal this year and his seventh power play goal.

The tally also brought Priskie’s career point total to 98, two shy of the 100-point milestone.

UMass continued to bring high energy, outshooting Quinnipiac again in the second, 12 to nine, but were not able to crack Petruzzelli.

However, in the final frame, UMass again brought the intensity and it paid off. After pinning Quinnipiac in its own zone, UMass senior defenseman Ivan Chukarov ripped a shot from the point that beat Petruzzelli over his blocker to tie the game with.

Then, a heavy forecheck by Lagunov resulted in a bad turnover by the Bobcats’ behind their own net and and UMass senior forward Jacob Pritchard found himself all alone at the top of the crease with the puck and was able to beat Petruzzelli.

Quinnipiac couldn’t muster anything else and UMass’ freshman forward Bobby Trivigno added an empty-netter to seal the win for UMass.

“In the end, I think in last night’s game, the team that wanted it more won, which was Quinnipiac,” Pecknold said. “And tonight, the team that wanted it more was UMass. I think it’s simple as that.”

While ending on a less than ideal note, Quinnipiac heads into a winter break with the first half of the season having been a very successful one.

“Outside of tonight, and obviously there are a couple blips, but 14-3-0 is outstanding,” Pecknold said. “It’s been a great start with the youth we have on the team. Our goaltenders have been outstanding…There’s just a lot of positives.”

With the success in the first 17 games, Pecknold has brought his career win total to 499 wins. He is currently the third-winningest active D-I coach and is one win shy of 500.

One of the major points that has lingered with the team has been injuries. Senior forward Nick Jermain remains out of the lineup, having not played since the AIC series back in the end of October. Freshman forward Desi Burgart missed five games before returning for the UMass series and freshman forward T.J. Friedmann has missed a couple games as well.

It’s Pecknold’s biggest point of emphasis looking ahead to the second half of the season.

“We just have got to get healthy,” Pecknold said. “We had a lot of guys that didn’t play tonight, that hurts us, that hurts our depth. We had some guys that played hurt and they couldn’t log the minutes that they normally do. Right now, we just need to use the break to get healthy.”

Quinnipiac has one more game remaining in 2018, a matchup that is considered an out-of-conference game against Colgate at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. That game is set for Dec. 29 at 5 p.m.