Coming of a tie against Dartmouth, a loss against Harvard and a come-from-behind win against a 2-11 Union team, the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team (6-4-1 overall, 2-1-1 ECAC Hockey) faced a lot of pressure on Saturday. The Bobcats responded to the pressure with a 3-1 win against RPI (4-5-1 overall, 2-3-1 ECAC Hockey).
Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold was pleased that his team got an important win but wants to see more consistency moving forward.
“It was a good win tonight,” Pecknold said. “We lost a lot of energy as we moved on, but RPI is a good team and well coached. We’re happy to get the win at home, and it’s a good weekend for us.”
The Bobcats had a first period against Union on Friday that saw them go 0-2 on the power play with one shot, along with letting up a goal 3:37 into the game.
Quinnipiac was faced with a similar situation, as RPI’s captain and senior defenseman William Reilly scored to make it a 1-0 lead. This time, Quinnipiac had an immediate answer.
Quinnipiac senior forward Alex Whelan answered 68 seconds later with a tipped shot from senior defenseman Karlis Cukste to tie the game and score his first goal of the season.
About two minutes later, Quinnipiac sophomore defenseman Zach Metsa ripped a slapshot wide only to find sophomore forward William Fallstrom in perfect position at the opposite post to make it a 2-1 game.
The night of firsts continued, as mid-way through the first period Quinnipiac junior forward Odeen Tufto capitalized on a breakaway opportunity to make it a 3-1 game. Fallstrom, Tufto and Whelan each ended the first period with their first goal of the season.
Tufto was on an eight game point-streak prior to the goal and was happy that he found the back of the net.
“You definitely saw it was a sigh of relief,” Tufto said. “I haven’t played my best hockey for the first few weekends of the season. Chances have been coming, but to finally get one is a good feeling for yourself and do it in that type of first period feels even better.”
Those ended up being the only goals in the game, despite RPI outshooting Quinnipiac 18 to 11 in the second and third periods. Quinnipiac ended the game with 31 shots on goal to RPI’s 24.
The Bobcats were able to hang on, and a big part of that was the play of Cukste and junior goaltender Keith Petruzzelli.
Cukste finished the night with three points and is now third on the team in points with seven.
After the opening goal, Petruzzelli finished the night with 23 saves and has only allowed one goal in back-to-back games.
“It’s kind of cliché, but goalies have to have short memories,” Petruzzelli said. “For me, it’s just I hit both of my posts, take a deep breath and get ready for the next shot.”
Quinnipiac will travel to Ithaca, New York on Friday, Nov. 22, to face the Cornell Big Red (6-0 overall, 4-0 ECAC Hockey). Playing in this atmosphere last season, Petruzzelli understands his team has to stick to its identity.
“We just have to hone in our system,” Petruzzelli said. “We’re still a very young team, and guys are just trying to do what they think is right instead of buying in and doing what (Pecknold) says. That’s going to be crucial for us against Cornell, for us to be where we’re supposed to be.”