Big Green no big problem for Bobcats
Friday night’s 5-2 win over Harvard at the Hartford Civic Center ensured that the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team’s first weekend of play in the ECAC would be a success. But why be content with one win when you can have two?
The Bobcats (2-0 in the ECACHL, 8-2 overall) ran their winning streak to eight games on Saturday with a run-and-gun 7-5 win over Dartmouth (0-3, 0-3) before an overflow crowd of 1,043 at the Northford Ice Pavilion.
Head coach Rand Pecknold said he had been worried all week about a possible letdown against Dartmouth regardless of what happened on Friday.
“(Friday) was such a big event and the momentum on campus was building,” Pecknold said. “We talked about it after (Friday’s) game and said let’s enjoy it, but let’s enjoy it on Monday. And my captains did a really good job of getting the guys focused.”
As the case has been all season, there was no shortage of power plays. The two teams combined for 23 man advantages and each team tallied four power play goals.
“It’s early in the year and college hockey is cracking down on obstruction and interference,” Pecknold said.
Quinnipiac scored the game-winning goal 1:56 into the third period on the power play. The Bobcats were the beneficiaries of a penalty that is rarely called – bench protocol violation.
Dartmouth took the ice for the start of the third period too late, and referee Kevin Graber issued the Big Green a two minute minor penalty.
“They don’t call it a lot, but they can. It’s in the books,” Pecknold said. “You’re usually going to get that call by a better official that knows that’s the call.”
With five seconds left in the man advantage, sophomore Mark Van Vliet picked up a rebound in the slot and fired it past Mike Devine, who replaced Dartmouth starting goalie Sean Samuel in the second period.
Van Vliet and freshman Chris Meyers each had two goals and two assists for the Bobcats. Meyers’ goal with 5:54 left in the second period put Quinnipiac ahead for good.
“At the start of the year, I was just getting used to things, but it’s been getting better in the last couple weeks,” Meyers said. “I’ve got a great line with (David) Marshall and (Ben) Nelson and we’re just getting pucks to the net.”
The Bobcats had to battle back from a two-goal deficit after Dartmouth scored a pair of power play goals in the opening 11 minutes of the game. Quinnipiac tied the game at 3-3 with 10:27 left in the second on Marshall’s league-leading ninth goal of the season.
“Our second period has been pretty strong all year, and once we got the lead we didn’t look back,” Meyers said.
Freshman goalie Wes Russell got the start in favor of fellow freshman Bud Fisher, whose 35-save performance in Hartford on Friday played in big role in the Bobcats’ win over Harvard. Russell, who allowed four goals on 18 shots, was replaced by Fisher at the start of the third period.
“It was very hot in the Civic Center (Friday) night and I thought (Fisher) was a little gassed,” Pecknold said. “Wes Russell won a big game for us last Saturday and we thought it was a great opportunity to see what he could do.”
The Bobcats play eight of their next nine games on the road, beginning with next weekend’s game at RPI and Union. Quinnipiac’s next home game is Nov. 6 against Princeton at Yale’s Ingalls Rink.