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Timely goals lift men’s hockey
POSTED 3/2/07 AT 10:30 P.M.
HAMDEN – After struggling defensively in the first period of Friday night’s ECACHL quarterfinals series against Union, it appeared the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team would head into the first intermission without a goal for the third straight game.
But the Bobcats’ power play, which went 0-for-19 in a pair of games last weekend, converted with 24 seconds left for the first goal of the game.
Quinnipiac would score another goal in the final minute of the second period and went on to defeat Union, 3-1, in the first game of a best-of-three playoff series at the TD Banknorth Sports Center.
“At the end of the first, it was such an even game that it’s nice that they go in [the intermission] thinking ‘we almost had them, rather than we’ve got them,'” said Quinnipiac forward Bryan Leitch, who scored a power-play goal in the third period.
For a Union team that was playing without two of its top four scorers in Josh Coyle (personal matters) and Jason Walters (suspension), both of which are expected to be in the line-up tomorrow, escaping the first period scoreless likely would’ve been a momentum-builder.
“That was a heartbreaker going into the second period down like that,” Union forward T.J. Fox said. “It was a bad penalty. We talked all week about how their power play has hurt us all year.”
The Bobcats went 2-for-3 on the power play, which has accounted for 10 of their 23 goals in four wins against the Dutchmen this season.
While the power play came up empty-handed in losses to St. Lawrence and Clarkson last weekend, Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said he felt it had been good of late.
“Against Clarkson, we were 0-for-11, but we had 24 shots on net. That’s pretty impressive. We had some bad bounces, hit some pipes and stuff like that,” Pecknold said. “It was just one of those things were it clicked for us tonight.”
The first-period goal came 31 seconds into Quinnipiac’s second man advantage of the game. Reid Cashman kept the puck in at the right point for the Bobcats and slid a cross-ice pass to Ben Nelson, who rifled a shot over Union goalie Justin Mrazek’s shoulder.
The Bobcats used another late-period goal in the second to take a 2-0 lead when Eric Lampe beat Mrazek (30 saves) blocker-side with a wrist shot with 16 seconds remaining.
Leitch ended his six-game goal-scoring drought with 6:34 left in the third when he knocked Dan Henningson’s rebound past Mrazek to give Quinnipiac a 3-0 lead.
Bud Fisher (25 saves) was working toward his third shutout of the season until Union scored on a 6-on-4 power-play advantage with Mrazek pulled for an extra attacker with under three minutes remaining.
Quinnipiac will have the chance to win the series tomorrow night and advance to a semifinals series next weekend at Cornell.
“I told the guys after the game we’re not going to celebrate until we win the series,” Pecknold said. “One win doesn’t mean anything.”