Quinnipiac defeats Union 2-1 in hard-fought battle

Benjamin Upson, Contributing Writer

Coming off of a rocky 0-3-1 road trip, the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team returned to Hamden on Friday, Nov. 15, for the first time in almost three weeks.

The Bobcats overcame an early deficit to defeat the Union Dutchmen (2-11-0 overall, 1-4-0 ECAC) by a score of 2-1. With the win, the Bobcats improve to 5-4-1 overall and 1-1-1 in the ECAC Hockey conference standings. Quinnipiac improves to eighth, while Union falls to 10th in the ECAC Hockey Standings.

Connor Lawless
Freshman defenseman Logan Britt examines the defense while looking for an open teammate.

The Bobcats came out with lackluster defensive effort, and Union took advantage. The Dutchmen recorded nine shots on goal in the first period compared to the Bobcats’ six.

Junior Sean Harrison gave the Dutchmen an early 1-0 lead with a turnaround shot that got past Petruzzelli. The score would carry over into the first intermission.

The Bobcats came out in the second period with a more valiant effort, and it did not take them long to get on the scoreboard. Halfway through the period, senior forward and captain Alex Whelan assisted Karlis Cukste on his first goal of the season, which came via the power play, to tie the game at 1-1.

Cukste was a key factor in the Bobcats win as he tallied one goal, six shots and five blocks.

“I’ve just been taking from what we’ve been practicing the whole week, and I try to do my best every single day,” Cukste said.

One aspect that the Bobcats did not execute well on was their power play, as they went 1-for-4 on the night, with the one goal that came off the stick of Cukste in front. Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold realized that this was an issue for the team.

“Our power play has been struggling a bit, I thought we had some good looks from the Tufto unit, we just gotta bear down a little bit more,” Pecknold said. “We have to focus and keep it simple and make plays and not hope that they’ll be made.”

The game would remain tied heading into the third period until sophomore forward Wyatt Bongiovanni put one past Union goaltender Darion Hanson to give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead. They would ultimately win by that same score. Pecknold believed that there were missed opportunities out there but was happy to walk out with the win.

“Overall good win tonight,” Pecknold said. “Union was really good, and they gave us everything they can so we’re happy to get the win … I thought Hanson was really good in goal, we could easily have had three, four or maybe more, but we gotta find a way to score more than two goals in a game.”

Looking at the positive side, Quinnipiac junior goaltender Keith Petruzzelli has started all 10 games for the Bobcats this season, and he rebounded from a difficult road trip in which he surrendered 12 goals in a four-game stretch. In Friday’s win, he recorded 19 saves and allowed just one goal.

With the win, the Bobcats will look to carry this much-needed momentum into their next matchup when they face the Rensselaer Engineers (4-4-1 overall, 2-2-1 ECAC) on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. in Hamden.