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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Turnovers, injury haunt Quinnipiac in split with New Hampshire

Connor Coar
Quinnipiac men’s hockey played New Hampshire for the first time in program history on Oct. 20 and 21.

It’s just five games into the regular season for Quinnipiac men’s hockey, but as head coach Rand Pecknold put it following an overtime loss to New Hampshire on Oct. 21, the team has been “all over the map.” 

The Bobcats split a non-conference series at UNH this past weekend, working from behind to secure a 5-2 win on Friday before falling 5-4 in overtime the following day. 

The loss marked just the fourth time in the last four seasons that Quinnipiac has given up five or more goals in a game, and the only loss of the four against an unranked team. 

That’s not to say UNH is a bad team. The Wildcats knocked off No. 1 Boston University the week before their upset over Quinnipiac, but on the weekend as a whole, most of the Bobcats’ wounds were self-inflicted. 

“There was just a lot of panic,” Pecknold said after the loss. “The amount of turnovers we had, especially in that third period, and even the overtime goal … We made a lot of mistakes and give credit to UNH, they capitalized.” 

Four of the seven goals Quinnipiac gave up came directly off turnovers, two of which were failed breakout passes, a struggle for the Bobcats in both games, leading to long stretches where they were stuck in the defensive zone. 

“It’s not just our freshmen and our transfers,” Pecknold said. “Some of our returners are struggling. I don’t know if it’s a hangover from the national championship or what, but we’ve got to be better.” 

UNH chased freshman goaltender Matej Marinov from Saturday’s game after he gave up three goals on four shots. That stat is certainly padded by poor defensive puck protection, but after a shutout in his first collegiate start on Oct. 14, the performance left a lot to be desired. 

Quinnipiac was dominant in stretches in both games, its top two lines pouring pressure on in the offensive zone, invigorated by the play of junior forward Collin Graf in his second and third games back from injury. 

But Graf’s presence was short-lived after he left Saturday’s game in the second period with a lower-body injury. He was seen the following day in a walking boot and using crutches. 

“I’m not happy with how we played,” Pecknold said on Oct. 21. “Not just the loss. I thought the game changed for us once we lost Graf. We’ve got to be a little more resilient.” 

It’s Graf’s second injury in less than three weeks. He missed two games — one exhibition and the series opener against AIC — after suffering an apparent head injury in the Bobcats’ home opener against Boston College. 

Senior transfer Travis Treloar slid onto the first line right wing in Graf’s absence against AIC and presumably will resume that role against Maine on Oct. 27 and 28. 

“I love how he’s just really working on his game, being a 200-foot player,” Pecknold said. “His faceoffs have been great. That was an issue for him last year so I’ve challenged him in a couple certain areas and he’s really responded.” 

That pushes sophomore Victor Czerneckianair up to center freshmen Mason Marcellus and Andon Cerbone, who each chipped in multiple points against UNH. 

Czerneckianair’s fourth line spot was filled by freshman Matthew McGroarty against the Yellow Jackets, who will likely retake the position against Maine. 

McGroarty, along with sophomores Anthony Cipollone and Alex Power, have been bright spots on the Bobcats’ bottom line in limited ice time this season. 

Cipollone scored his first of the season to give Quinnipiac the lead in Saturday’s game, while the hustle play of McGroarty and Power has been noticeable as they’ve swapped in and out of the lineup for one another. 

Sophomore Timothy Heinke could also reappear in the lineup against the Black Bears, though he hasn’t played since the Oct. 7 game versus BC and did not travel with the team to New Hampshire this weekend. 

One year ago this week, I headlined my column “Championships aren’t won in October,” after a shutout loss raised alarm bells in the Bobcats’ road split at Maine — a take that aged well in April. That sentiment holds just as true this year. 

“October’s always a unique month for every college team, we’re no different,” Pecknold said after Quinnipiac’s 8-0 win over AIC on Oct. 14. “(We’re) trying to find our way, find our identity and integrate — half our team is new … everything kind of settles in once you get to November.” 

Quinnipiac hasn’t lost a game in November in four years. The series with UNH highlighted a number of growing pains for a team that turned over nearly half its roster in the offseason, Graf’s injury throwing yet another wrench into the equation. But like last season and so many before it, as the weather gets colder, the Bobcats heat up. After all, they’re the defending national champions for a reason. 

“It’s a growth process,” Pecknold said. “We just need to mature, have a little growth spurt here and understand ‘Why do we win games?’ We didn’t do that this weekend.” 

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Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

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