At least for one night the Quinnipiac Bobcats looked like the team of old. Good defense, a solid penalty kill and outstanding goaltending got the job done for the team to gets its first win since December 12.
The Bobcats took a visible sigh of relief as the final horn sounded on Saturday night at the TD Bank Sports Center. When the clock showed triple zeroes, the crowd erupted and the players jumped over the boards to go celebrate the 2-0 victory over the Colgate Raiders.
“We’re extremely relieved to get back into the win column,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said.
“They’re pretty pumped (in the locker room). We’re excited every time we win a hockey game. There was a little bit of frustration in the locker room because of this losing streak, and now there’s a little bit of relief and excitement.”
Quinnipiac, doing a lot of the things they did early on in the season that had them off to a blazing 12-1 start, got timely goals from senior forward Greg Holt and defensive leader Zach Hansen, as well as stellar goaltending from sophomore Dan Clarke.
With 4:44 left in the first period, the Bobcats got all they needed for the win. Holt received a crisp pass from Mike Glaicar and found himself at the blue line with a one-on-one with Colgate goaltender Alex Evin. Holt skated inside the zone, faked to the backhand, switched back to the forehand and flicked the puck over the goalie’s glove side and into the back of the net for the score.
“Just getting the lead was really important,” Pecknold said. “Early in the year we could play in front, or from behind, we were just so confident. But right now I think getting that first goal was probably the biggest key.”
Holt’s seventh goal of the season came at an opportune time.
“In practice I’ve just been practicing on getting in the middle and getting open,” Holt said. “Glaicar made a great pass, and I was just wide open and just went down and made a move and scored.”
The goal by Holt was all that Clarke needed, who picked up his first shutout of the season, saving 26 shots in his first win since December.
“I thought Clarke was excellent,” Pecknold said. “I thought it was one of his best games of the year. His puck-handling was amazing tonight. He made a lot of big saves and he looked confident – he looked like he did in November.”
With 1:12 left in the game and on a five-on-three power play, Hansen ripped a shot from the point into the top-right shelf for an insurance goal. It was his second goal of the season and he was assisted by senior assistant captain Brandon Wong.
“We were moving the puck well, which is what coach has been stressing all week during our power-play practices,” Hansen said. “A lane opened up, and Wong gave me a great pass, and with Zurevinski out front screening, the net just opened up. I just shot it and hoped it in went in, and it did. I hope this will jumpstart the rest of our season and carry us into the playoffs.”
The Bobcats now have four road games coming up before they finish up the season with two games at home before they head to the playoffs.
“This felt like a playoff win,” Hansen said. “There were a lot of emotions, and coach told us to take a game-seven mentality into the game.”
“We couldn’t have had a better win at a better time,” Holt said. “We have the playoffs coming up, and it’s a good time to get that win, and get rolling. Now we need to get a couple more wins and go into the playoffs with a winning streak.”
The Bobcats are now 10-0-1 this season after carrying a lead into the third period.
The Bobcats are off to the road this weekend for two ECAC Hockey matchups. They face St. Lawrence on Friday, and one night later they will take on Clarkson. Both games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
ECAC Hockey standings
Photo credit: Andrew Vazzano