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Men’s hockey jumps all over AIC
HAMDEN – With freshman goalie Zach Kleiman making his first collegiate start Tuesday night, the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team wanted to make sure it got off to a quick start to give Kleiman some early support.
By the time Kleiman made his first save in the game against American International College, the Bobcats had already scored four goals and were well on their way to an 8-1 non-conference win at the TD Banknorth Sports Center.
“That really took the pressure off,” said Kleiman, who made 14 saves. “I felt rusty, but in times like this you have to shake it off fast.”
Sophomore goalie Bud Fisher didn’t play for the first time this season, ending his streak of consecutive starts at 46 games, which dates back to Jan. 14, 2006. Fisher had struggled in his last three ECACHL games, allowing four or more goals to Yale, Brown and Dartmouth.
“It was a good time for us to go in another direction,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said.
Kleiman had made five relief appearances totaling 37 minutes coming into the game and admitted he was nervous at the beginning.
“My team really helped me out by keeping most of the shots to the perimeter,” Kleiman said. “I knew that they weren’t going to get [a lot] of opportunities to score, but I knew they were going to get a lot of power breaks so I prepared myself as if I was playing the top team in the nation.”
AIC (6-22, 6-18 Atlantic Hockey) is among the worst teams in the nation and fell behind quickly as Quinnipiac (15-10-5, 9-5-4 ECACHL) scored three times in the opening three minutes of the game, forcing AIC to call a timeout after just 2:42.
“The first three minutes of the game, we were ready to play and jumped all over them,” Pecknold said. “That was probably the whole key to the game.”
Freshman Brandon Wong began the scoring barrage at 1:04, sliding a backhand shot past goalie Tom Fenton (30 saves). Sophomore Ben Nelson and freshman Eric Lampe then scored 20 seconds apart.
Nelson and Wong each added first-period power plays goals to give the Bobcats a 5-0 lead. Nelson beat Fenton with a wrist shot top shelf while Wong jammed in a rebound at the left post. Each would go on to score three goals for the hat trick, the third in each player’s career.
After a scoreless second period, the Bobcats got three goals in the third to tie their season-high for goals in a game.
Quinnipiac outshot AIC, 38-17, and had 17 shots in the first period.
NOTES: Senior defenseman Reid Cashman picked up one assist to become the program’s all-time leader in that category with 114, surpassing Brian Herbert ’03…Junior goalie Dan Cullen made his third appearance of the season, playing the final 3:27 and making two saves…Freshman forward Greg Holt and sophomore forward David Marshall, the Bobcats’ second-leading goal scorer with 15, were both healthy scratches. “Sometimes you just have to make decisions as a coach to send kids a message and tonight was the night to do it,” Pecknold said.