Round II goes to QU

By on March 1, 2006

The Quinnipiac men’s hockey team probably deserved a better fate in their first meeting with Yale in January. The Bobcats nearly doubled the Bulldogs in shots, but an effective power play and sharp goaltending from freshman Alec Richards allowed Yale to escape with a victory.

In Round Two between Quinnipiac and Yale on Friday night, the Bobcats staked themselves to a five-goal lead, chasing Richards from the net in the process, in a 6-2 win before a sellout crowd of 3,486 at Ingalls Rink.

Unless Quinnipiac and Yale meet in the ECAC tournament, the neighboring schools won’t meet again until next season. The Bobcats didn’t want to wait another 11 months for their next opportunity to defeat Yale.

“Since Day One, when we found out we were going to be in the ECAC, we talked about Yale,” Quinnipiac junior Reid Cashman said. “One of our goals was to beat Yale, and we certainly did not want to get swept.”

The victory guaranteed that Quinnipiac, which was picked to finish last in the 12-team ECAC in both the preseason coaches and media polls, would finish higher than 11th-place Yale in the standings. The win kept Quinnipiac in 9th-place, eight points ahead of last-place Brown.

“I was really disappointed when we were picked 12th in the preseason poll, so it’s nice to know we’re not going to finish even close to that,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said.

The Bobcats took the lead just 2:48 into the first period. Quinnipiac caught Yale on a line change as Ben Nelson and Jamie Bates skated into the Bulldogs’ zone on a 2-on-none rush. Nelson centered the puck to Bates and the sophomore forward backhanded the puck past Richards on the Bobcats’ first shot of the night.

David Marshall gave Quinnipiac a 2-0 lead at 11:27 when he put a wrist shot from the slot through Richards’ pads from the slot. Then, with 1:25 left in the period, the Bobcats scored off a face-off to Richards’ right as Chris Meyers’ shot deflected off a Yale defenseman.

Quinnipiac continued to pile up goals in the second period. Ben Nelson scored at 6:22, which ended the night for Richards, who allowed four goals on 17 shots. In Yale’s 4-3 win over Quinnipiac on Jan. 8, Richards made 37 saves, 18 of which came during a third period in which the Bobcats held a 19-3 shots advantage.

“We wanted to come out and get some revenge for what happened last time,” Nelson said.

Josh Gartner, making just his fifth appearance of the season, came into replace Richard. But Gartner gave up a power play goal with 5:07 left in the second as the Bobcats expanded their lead to 5-0. Bates snapped a quick shot stick-side past Gartner from the right circle.

Yale scored a couple goals in the third period to end the shutout bid for Quinnipiac goalie Bud Fisher (35 saves). But it was Fisher’s play while the game was still in reach for Yale that allowed the Bobcats to keep a comfortable lead.

“We were a little sloppy defensively, especially late in the first, and Fisher made some big saves to keep it at 3-0,” Pecknold said.

The rivalry between Yale and Quinnipiac will have the opportunity to grow next season. The first hockey game in the Bobcats’ new arena atop Sherman Avenue campus will be against the Bulldogs in January 2007.

“(Yale) was getting chippy at the end. They weren’t happy with how they played, so they’ll be fired up next year when we play,” Pecknold said. “I think the rivalry is going to grow at a natural pace. It’s something that in 10 years we’re going to look back and say this is where it started.”


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