Collin Graf gets his revenge, tallies five points against former team in No. 2/3 Bobcats’ blowout of Union

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

HAMDEN, Conn – No. 2/3 Quinnipiac men’s hockey showcased why they’re ranked among the nation’s best with a dominating performance against Union Saturday night. The Bobcats mounted an unrelenting offensive attack that the Dutchmen could not match, ending in an 8-1 blowout. 

Just 45 seconds into the contest, the home team found the back of the net. Sophomore forward Collin Graf led the charge into the offensive zone on a play that eventually found freshman forward Sam Lipkin back door to give the Bobcats a 1-0 advantage. 

Graf, who transferred from Union in the offseason, emphatically celebrated the early tally against his former team, staring down the Dutchmen bench before joining his teammates. 

“(There were) a little bit of nerves, but I think I got adjusted pretty well that first shift,” Graf said. “It felt good, it was fun.”

It took over 15 minutes for another goal to be scored. Back-and-forth hockey led to chances for both sides, but solid defense kept the score unchanged until the Bobcats went on the power play with four minutes to play in the opening frame. 

Graduate student forward Ethan de Jong rifled a high-slot one-timer past Union senior goaltender Connor Murphy off a pass from Lipkin and the advantage became two for Quinnipiac. The point was Lipkin’s 16th of the year and 12th in the last month, as the Philadelphia native continues the offensive tear that earned him ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Month for November. 

The Bobcats lead became 3-0 a minute later, as graduate student forward TJ Friedmann slammed home a cross-crease pass from graduate student forward Michael Lombardi. 

The lopsided score doesn’t represent how many quality looks Union generated in the period. The visiting Dutchmen played an aggressive, physical game that forced turnovers and caused the Bobcats’ defenders and sophomore goaltender Yaniv Perets to come up big.

A breakaway from freshman forward Carter Korpi and several dangerous net-front scrambles threatened to cut into Quinnipiac’s lead, but ultimately were to no avail, as the Bobcats headed into the break up three. 

“I thought Union really gave a good push when we went up 1-0,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I know the way the score was, it doesn’t sound like it, but Yaniv was great.”

Where it created chances in the first, Union did the opposite in the second period. The Dutchmen registered a measly single shot in the frame, while Quinnipiac recorded four goals. 

Friedmann got the party started on a penalty shot, beating Murphy on his backhand for his second goal of the game and seventh of the season. 

Two of the next three goals were scored by Graf, as the sophomore phenom continued his revenge tour and extended his stranglehold on the conference scoring lead. He now has 26 points in 18 games, surpassing his total from last season just over halfway through the campaign. 

Sandwiched between those tallies was a goal of the year contender from sophomore forward Jacob Quillan that would make Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin proud. The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, native was tripped up as he crashed the net, but still found a way to get his stick on the puck and shelved it past freshman goaltender Kyle Chauvette from his stomach.

Chauvette replaced Murphy midway through the second period following Quinnipiac ‘s fifth goal. 

Union added a goal of its own on a sweet toe-drag from junior defenseman Mason Snell, but not to be outdone, Graf dangled through the Dutchmen defense and found Quillan on the far post, extending the Bobcats lead back to seven. 

Freshman goaltender Chase Clark replaced Perets in net in the games’ waning minutes. However, after chants of “We want Altman!” rang through M&T Bank Arena, Pecknold gave the crowd what they wanted and gave sophomore goaltender Noah Altman the nod for his first collegiate action.

“The students were calling for it, so finally I caved and got him in there,” Pecknold said. “He did great. He’s just an awesome kid. A+++”

Neither Clark nor Altman were troubled much as Bobcats finished the weekend with a +12 goal differential and remained undefeated in conference play at 10-0-0.

Quinnipiac doesn’t hit the ice again until Dec. 30 against Holy Cross, where it will be without Pecknold and potentially Lipkin as they go for gold with Team USA in IIHF World Junior Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.