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Men’s hockey cruises past Yale
POSTED 1/13/07 AT 11:55 P.M.
NEW HAVEN – After sitting out for a year-and-a-half, Mike Atkinson is finally back on the ice playing in games. Atkinson transferred to Quinnipiac last January from the University of Vermont, where he never played, and had to sit out the last two semesters due to NCAA eligibility requirements.
Saturday night, playing in his fifth game, Atkinson scored his first two collegiate goals to lead No. 19 Quinnipiac to a 6-2 win over Yale at Ingalls Rink. And while any scoring he can bring to a team already loaded with offensive weapons is welcome, it’s his competitiveness and defensive play that has impressed Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold.
“His penalty killing has been excellent and he’s really given us another element that we’ve missed since Mike Bordieri’s been out,” Pecknold said. “That’s more important that he brings to this team that energy level. So far for five games, he’s played hungry.”
Quinnipiac’s penalty killing has been perfect in the last four games and went 5-for-5 against Yale. It was on the penalty kill in the third period when Atkinson nearly completed the hat trick as he stole the puck at the Bulldogs blue line and rushed in on goalie Alec Richards down the far boards.
“My job on this team is defense first, but as long as long as those (goals) keep going in, I’m happy with that,” said Atkinson, who played wing on Quinnipiac’s fourth line with Eric Lampe and Dan LeFort.
The pucks weren’t going in the net much for Bobcats in their first three games following the winter break. Quinnipiac (11-6-4, 8-3-3 ECACHL) had just six goals in those games, but scored 11 goals this weekend after defeating Brown 5-1 on Friday.
These were important games for Quinnipiac, which remains atop the ECAC standings, but has played four or five more conference games than two-thirds of the league.
With the Bobcats taking a two-week break from ECAC play, most of the league will catch up with them in games played before Quinnipiac plays its next conference game Jan. 30 against Harvard.
Yale (8-7-2, 5-5 ECACHL) controlled the flow of the game early on, taking the first six shots and opening the scoring on a Michael Karowski goal 2:19 into the period.
“They came out flying. We got a lot of guys still adjusting and they didn’t know about the intensity that they were going to bring with the rivalry between us starting to form,” sophomore David Marshall said. “We played well and we weathered the storm that’s expected to come from the home tram.”
The Bobcats responded three minutes after the Yale goal with a pair of goals 43 seconds apart to take the lead for the rest of the game.
Brandon Wong scored the first of his two goals when he knocked a rebound off fellow freshman Greg Holt’s shot past Richards (20 saves) on the power play. Atkinson then scored on a rebound which deflected off Richards and into the net at 5:52.
Goalie Bud Fisher (22 saves) faced just nine shots combined in the final two periods, but the sophomore came up with 14 saves in the first period to keep Yale from doing much damage early on.
“That five minutes where they came out and were throwing everything at the net, Bud made some big saves to settle everyone down,” Marshall said.
The Bobcats scored three times in the second to blow the game open. Marshall, who has four goals in three games against Yale, beat a screened Richards with a wrist shot from between the circles 5:58 into the period.
At 11:17, freshman Greg Holt poked the puck away from a Yale player in the near corner. The puck ended up in the low slot for Wong, who scored for his 16th goal of the season.
Wong then set-up an easy power-play goal for freshman Jean-Marc Beaudoin, who was alone at the left post, with 1:16 left to give the Bobcats a 5-1 lead.
Each team scored a goal in the third, with Atkinson picking up his second goal when slipped a low shot inside the near post on a breakaway.
Quinnipiac plays a two-game non-conference series at Niagara next weekend before opening the TD Banknorth Sports Center against Holy Cross on Jan. 28.
NOTES: The Bobcats are now 2-1 all-time against Yale, having won the last two games by the score of 6-2. All three games have been played at Ingalls, but the next game will be in Hamden at Quinnipiac’s new arena Feb. 2…The win gives the Bobcats 19 points in ECAC games, which surpasses their point total in league play last year.