Little things helping men’s hockey win
More often than not, it’s the flashy plays that get noticed in hockey. But it’s usually the little things that go unnoticed that win games.
For the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team, which hosts RPI and Union this weekend at the Northford Ice Pavilion, the penalty kill has played a big role in the team’s success this season. The Bobcats (7-4-3 overall, 4-2-2 ECACHL) have the seventh-best penalty kill in the nation with an 88.6 percent success rate.
“We’ve probably practiced it more this year than any other time in my career here and it’s really paid off,” said head coach Rand Pecknold, who is in his 13th season at Quinnipiac.
What’s even more impressive is that Quinnipiac lost its best forward penalty-killer in senior Michael Bordieri indefinitely after the Nov. 4 game at RPI. His partner on the penalty kill, sophomore forward Mark Nelson, was then moved back to defense, which left the Bobcats with some vacancies up front.
Quinnipiac has turned to three of its freshmen to fill those spots. Jean-Marc Beaudoin, Eric Lampe and Brandon Wong have stepped in to log plenty of minutes on the penalty kill. Over the past five games, the Bobcats have allowed just three power-play goals in 33 penalty-kills (90.9 percent).
They killed all nine Dartmouth man advantages, including a five-on-three advantage for the first two minutes of the second period, in their last game, a 3-3 tie Nov. 25 on the road.
“A lot of guys have stepped up, and Brandon and I were fortunate to take that position,” Beaudoin said.
Wong has also been one of Quinnipiac’s top offensive weapons as he leads the team in goals (10) and points (16). Wong showed his two-way skills in the game Nov. 17 against Colgate, when he blocked two shots on the penalty kill and then as the Colgate power play expired, carried the puck down the left wing and set-up Ben Nelson for a goal.
Of course, the last line of defense on the penalty kill is the goaltender, and sophomore Bud Fisher has done his part, posting the second-best goals-against average (2.37) among ECACHL goalies in league play.
“Our best penalty-killer has been Bud and he’s been tremendous for us this year,” senior captain Reid Cashman said.
When the Bobcats face Union on Saturday, it won’t be the Dutchmen’s power play they’ll be worried about. In conference games, Union has scored just two power-play goals in 46 opportunities.
What will be of concern to the Bobcats is how Union will respond to be soundly defeated by Quinnipiac twice this season. Quinnipiac has scored 16 goals in its two wins over Union, including an 8-2 thrashing in the Dutchmen’s ECACHL home opener last month.
“I think we’re going to have some serious issues with Union this time around,” Pecknold said. “I think they’re going to be pretty fired up. We have to try to avoid falling into the trap of being complacent and thinking it’s an easy game, because it’s not.”
These two games will be the final games the Bobcats will play at Northford while classes are in session. They play their final three games there during the winter break before moving into the TD Banknorth Sports Center on Jan. 28.
The Bobcats are 87-13-9 all-time at Northford and remain unbeaten at 6-0 in ECACHL games played there.