No. 7 Quinnipiac downs Boston College in season opener

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass – Flames scorched the air as the Boston College men’s hockey team took to the ice in Chestnut Hill Friday night. But it was the visiting team, No. 6/7 Quinnipiac, that brought the fire, lighting up BC graduate student goaltender Mitchell Benson to the tune of a 4-0 win. 

After a couple minutes of rust-busting, the Bobcats gained possession in the offensive zone and put on a clinic, spreading the Eagles’ defense so thin that it looked like a power play. 

Coincidentally, that shift ended with Quinnipiac heading the man-advantage, an opportunity it didn’t squander. Senior forward Skyler Brind’Amour won the face-off back to graduate student defenseman Zach Metsa, who one-timed it home to put the road squad up a score. 

The Bobcats were bottom-10 in the nation in power play percentage last season, but a new group is looking to change that narrative. 

Among that group is sophomore forward Cristophe Tellier, who, despite not registering a point in the victory, impressed with his puck movement in the offensive zone. 

“He didn’t play any power play (last season) … and he’s on our first unit now,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “We really liked him last year, he just had to work on rounding out the defensive side of his game. I decided to give him a shot on the first PP and it’s been great so far.”

The Bobcats almost converted again shortly after, when graduate student forward Michael Lombardi fed sophomore forward Collin Graf backdoor on an odd-man rush. But instead of twine, the Union transfer found the post, and Quinnipiac’s lead stood pat. 

From that point, Quinnipiac’s play slowly deteriorated as the period waned on. Bad turnovers, sloppy defense and an inability to clear the puck on the penalty kill punctuated the latter half of the season’s opening frame. 

However, sophomore goaltender Yaniv Perets showcased why he was a Richter Award finalist last season and shut the door on every BC chance, including a backhand chance from graduate student forward Cam Burke after he dipsy doodled through the entire Bobcats’ defensive unit. 

“When you’re playing good goalies, you’ve got to get a little bit of volume on him,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “I think we passed up a few opportunities and we didn’t quite get enough traffic in front of him. When quality goalies see the puck, they’re really tough to beat.”

The defensive lapses didn’t stop for Quinnipiac as the second period got under way.  Within the first six minutes of the frame the Eagles had three golden chances, all of which found either Perets or the post.  

Junior forward Trevor Kuntar had an open net opportunity on the power play with the Bobcats reeling, but rifled his shot off the near post. 

Quinnipiac revitalized its play in the minutes that followed, finally regaining solid offensive pressure once more, but all of its chances met Eagles’ bodies. Until one didn’t. 

Freshman defenseman Charles-Alexis Legault caught a pass on the right point and sent a lofting shot over Benson’s shoulder for his first collegiate goal, giving the Bobcats a 2-0 lead. 

“He’s been really good through the two exhibition games and tonight,” Pecknold said. “He still has some things to work on but we’re very happy with him. He’s committed, his buy-in has been excellent.”

Heading into the third, not even a beautiful rendition of Mr. Brightside by the Eagles’ student section could give BC life. The Eagles failed to generate any meaningful chances early in the period. So when Lombardi trickled a shot past Benson from the right dot to give the visitors a three-goal lead with 10 minutes to play, most of the once rowdy crowd headed for the exits. 

The number grew even thinner less than a minute later when graduate student forward Ethan de Jong beat Benson high off a drop pass from sophomore forward Jacob Quillan. 

The remaining time fell by uneventfully, sending Quinnipiac home with a 4-0 victory to start the campaign.

“I thought we kind of took over as the game went on with our grinding and getting some zone time,” Pecknold said. “Really happy to walk out of here against an excellent team with a win.”

The Bobcats are back in action Sunday at 2 p.m.against LIU for their home opener.