Smilanic makes history

Bongiovanni and Smilanic both scored in 2-1 OT victory over Sacred Heart

Peter Piekarski, Associate Sports Editor

It took only two games for freshman forward Ty Smilanic to net his first career NCAA goal. And yes, it was highlight-worthy.

A pass from the left side of Quinnipiac’s blue line reached Smilanic as he was exploding through the neutral zone. He tipped the puck just past the defender, then one-touch windmill deked around the same defender.

As he approached the net, Smilanic warded off the defender and chipped the puck between Sacred Heart junior goaltender Josh Benson’s blocker and body, giving Quinnipiac a 1-0 lead in the first period.

“It felt pretty special,” Smilanic said. “It was kind of a fluky goal. I don’t know how I ended up on a breakaway, but at the end of the day, it was cool to get the team the lead.”

Senior forward Odeen Tufto assisted the Bobcats’ game-winning goal in overtime. (Contributed by QU Athletics)

Outside of Smilanic’s goal, Quinnipiac lost its golden touch from the previous night. The offense peppered Benson with 33 shots in regulation and was stopped all but once. They also went 0-8 on the power play firing 17 shots on net over that stretch.

Sacred Heart also had its struggles all night with offensive possession and opportunities until sophomore forward Braeden Tuck was able to tie up the game off a rebound with 2:49 remaining in the game, ultimately sending it to overtime.

It took only one shot for Quinnipiac to end its first experience in the new 3-on-3 overtime format. Senior forward and captain Odeen Tufto danced into the attacking end, controlling the puck around the left faceoff circle before stopping short and pulling the pack back on his forehand.

Tufto then made a crisp cross-ice pass to junior forward Wyatt Bongiovanni who hammered a one-timer home to secure the win for Quinnipiac.

“It was fun,” Bongiovanni said. “Odeen did a good job of entering the zone and having the poise to find ice and have the patience to look for the right play. My goal was to get lost in space and hope he could find me. The golden road opened up for me, and the rest is history.”

Quinnipiac scored 11 goals in its home sweep against Sacred Heart, and Bongiovanni is the only player to have multiple goals. Ten Bobcats have scored so far this season.

The Bobcats have a short rest period before facing off against No. 13 Bowling Green on Dec. 18 and 19, a tough test for Quinnipiac early on as it went 2-5 against ranked opponents last season.

“I think in the end it’s mental,” Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey head coach Rand Pecknold said. “Friday’s going to be mental. Saturday’s going to be mental. If we want it bad enough, we’ll be fine.”