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Yost Ice Arena has a reputation of being the toughest place in college hockey to play at. Since the start of the 2002-03 season, the University of Michigan men’s hockey team has won almost 90 percent of its games at the arena in Ann Arbor.
Among the Wolverines’ 52 home wins during that span, four have been against Quinnipiac, which opened its season over the weekend with a pair of losses, 3-1 on Friday and 5-3 on Saturday, at No. 8 ranked Michigan. In 2003, the Bobcats dropped back-to-back one-goal games at Michigan.
But unlike 2003, when Quinnipiac had junior Jamie Holden and senior Justin Eddy between the pipes, the Bobcats battled the Wolverines with a pair of freshman goalies. Bud Fisher got the nod Friday and made 30 saves while Wes Russell stopped 33 of 38 shots Saturday.
“Even though the scores weren’t as close as the last time we were here, I think we’re a better team than two years ago,” head coach Rand Pecknold said on the WQUN postgame show.
“Two years ago, it was more of spectacular goaltending both nights, and now I think we’re getting better where we can keep up with nationally ranked teams.”
After a scoreless first period Friday, the Bobcats opened the second with almost three minutes remaining on a five-minute power play. But Quinnipiac failed to convert and Michigan freshman Danny Fardig scored on a scramble in front of the net at 3:41 to open the scoring.
The Wolverines took a 2-0 lead at 10:58 on a five-on-three power play. Kevin Porter took a cross-ice pass from T.J. Hensick and knocked the puck past Fisher at the edge of the crease.
Quinnipiac pulled within one goal with 2:50 left in the third period. Senior Joe Dumais fired a shot that ricocheted off two Michigan defenders and went into the net. But the Wolverines caught a similar break 44 seconds later when Porter’s shot was redirected past Fisher.
Like Friday, the second period would prove to be the Bobcats’ undoing Saturday. After freshman Brian Leitch tied the game for Quinnipiac in the first period, the Wolverines scored three goals in three minutes to take a 4-1 lead with 11 minutes left in the second.
Sophomore Matt Sorteberg scored a power play goal late in the second for the Bobcats, while freshman Dan Henningson tallied his first professional goal with 1:36 remaining in the third period.
“I’m happy that we get out of here playing solid both nights, but I really wanted to at least get a point this weekend,” Pecknold said.
The Bobcats host the 10th annual Quinnipiac Cup this weekend at the Northford Ice Pavilion. Quinnipiac plays Rochester Institute of Technology at 7 p.m. Friday. If the Bobcats win, they will face the winner of Friday afternoon’s Air Force/Bentley game in the title game at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The loser of the two games on Friday play in the consolation game at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Bobcats have won seven of the first nine Quinnipiac Cups and five in a row. Last season, they blanked Bentley, 3-0, in the title game after rallying to defeat AIC, 3-2, in the first game.