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Starting off on the right skate
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – The players are stronger, the game is faster, but Brandon Wong continues to do what he did at a dizzying pace in junior hockey – score goals.
The freshman forward scored three goals for the hat trick as the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team rolled past Union, 8-2, Friday night in the ECAC opener for both teams. The eight goals were the most Quinnipiac has ever scored in an ECAC game.
Wong led the British Columbia Hockey League in scoring last season with 55 goals and 128 points. Just seven games into his collegiate career, he’s already leading Quinnipiac in scoring with six goals, something Wong said he wasn’t counting on.
“I just wanted to focus on defensive hockey first and the offense will come,” Wong said.
Wong showcased his talent best on his third goal. With the Bobcats leading by six goals and killing a penalty midway through the third period, Wong worked his way into the Union zone and scored on a breakaway.
“I think that goal personifies the type of player he is,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “He worked and worked and made that play all on his own. That was a big-time goal.”
Quinnipiac has scored 16 goals over the past two games, both against Union. The Bobcats defeated the Dutchmen, 8-5, in the consolation game of the Governor’s Cup in Albany, N.Y. last Sunday.
In the game Friday, the Bobcats took advantage of nearly every scoring chance – they had only 22 shots in the game.
“We were fortunate in that when we did get scoring opportunities, they were real quality scoring opportunities,” Pecknold said. “It was one of those games where pucks just seemed to find a way to go in.”
After a scoreless first period, the Bobcats began a scoring barrage 1:49 into the second with Wong’s first goal of the game. Dan Henningson put the puck on net from the right corner and Wong knocked the rebound past Union goalie Justin Mrazek.
Quinnipiac scored on its next shot 41 seconds later to take a 2-0 lead. Greg Holt’s slap shot from the blue line sailed wide of the net, but David Marshall picked up the rebound off the end boards and banked it off Mrazek into the net.
With the Bobcats on the power play, Wong got his second goal at 7:50 when he beat Mrazek on a rebound from the right circle.
Mrazek was pulled after Holt scored a minute later, but his replacement, Rich Sillery, allowed goals on both shots he faced to give the Bobcats six goals in 10 minutes, 50 seconds.
“Once we got that first goal, it felt like we couldn’t do anything wrong,” Pecknold said.
Winning road games in the ECAC troubled Quinnipiac last season. It went 2-9 in the regular season, with eight of those losses coming during the first three months of the season.
“It’s tough to win on the road in the ECAC and we learned that last year,” said forward Jamie Bates, who had a goal and an assist. “We lost a lot of one-goal games. That’s definitely a point of emphasis for us this year.”
QU 2, RPI 2: Jean-Marc Beaudoin and Bryan Leitch each scored for the Bobcats as they tied RPI, 2-2, Saturday night in Troy, N.Y. The tie extended Quinnipiac’s unbeaten streak to six games (4-0-2) since opening the season with a pair of losses at North Dakota.
The Bobcats outshot the Engineers, 27-18, and goalie Bud Fisher made 16 saves for Quinnipiac.