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Freshmen fuel men’s hockey to win
As roommates, freshmen Brandon Wong and Jean-Marc Beaudoin know each other well off the ice. On the ice, they’ve become familiar with one another by playing on the same line and pairing up on the penalty kill.
The two teamed up for Quinnipiac’s first three goals Tuesday night as the men’s hockey team defeated Bentley, 6-1, in a non-conference game a the TD Banknorth Sports Center.
“We’ve played them since day one together and at this rate they’re probably going to play four years together,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “They really have a good chemistry.”
Wong scored the three goals, with Beaudoin picking up the lone assist on all of them, for his second collegiate hat trick. Wong leads the ECACHL in goals with 20, but had been held scoreless in his last four games.
“The last week or two, (our line) has been struggling, but tonight we finally came back,” Wong said. “That’s what happens in hockey. You just have to fight through it and battle.”
Quinnipiac’s penalty kill, the fourth-best in the nation, played a big role in the win. The Bobcats held the Falcons to one power-play goal on nine opportunities, but more importantly scored three shorthanded goals. With 12 on the season, the Bobcats are tied with Michigan for the national lead in that category.
“We knew last year we were graduating some (penalty kill) guys and right now, four of our top five forwards killing are freshmen,” Pecknold said. “They’ve really done a great job, not just from an offensive standpoint, but defensively they’ve really bought into the rotation.”
Quinnipiac scored the only goal of the first period while on the penalty kill. Beaudoin stole the puck behind the net, flipped a shot on goal and Wong knocked the rebound past Bentley goalie Jason Kearney (28 saves) with 4:20 left.
Wong added another shorthanded goal 24 seconds into the second period when he kept the puck on a 2-on-1 rush and snapped a shot over Kearney’s blocker to give the Bobcats a 2-0 lead.
He completed the natural hat trick at 4:34 as he beat Kearney with a turn-around shot from between the circles.
Quinnipiac goalie Bud Fisher bounced back from a couple rough outings over the weekend with a 20-save performance before back-ups Zach Kleiman and Dan Cullen split the final six minutes of the game.
Fisher has started every game this season for the Bobcats, who wrapped up a stretch of five games in 10 days. When asked whether he thought about giving Fisher the night off, Pecknold said he thought playing him would serve as a good confidence builder.
“I always find it interesting that people feel you have to play two or three goalies,” Pecknold said. “I think it’s a little different if it’s a pro season and you play 80 games. But in college, you play 35 to 40 games. It’s not that much hockey.”
The Bobcats scored three third-period goals, with Wong picking up an assist on the middle one. Wong set up the goal by skating the puck around the net and sliding it across the crease to Chris Meyers, who easily knocked the puck in at the left post with 7:12 left.
Quinnipiac plays just one game this weekend when it hosts Dartmouth in an ECACHL contest Friday.