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- Former Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey player Connor Clifton signs with the Boston Bruins
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Fisher stars in relief, QU ties Yale
The fans arrived more than an hour before face-off Friday night, supporting their Bobcats by wearing gold and clapping their thundersticks to create a wall of sound in the student section. It was the biggest game of the year and the fans knew it.
In front of a record crowd of 4,673 at the TD Banknorth Sports Center, Bud Fisher, a four-year starter for the Bobcats men’s ice hockey team, was sitting on the bench as freshman goaltender Dan Clarke got the starting nod against the hated Yale Bulldogs. He then watched helplessly as Yale scored two goals in the first period before being thrust into action.
Clarke was pulled after Mark Arcobello gave Yale a 2-0 lead with less than seven-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first period.
“When you’re dressing for a game, you have to be ready for anything,” Fisher said. “I was excited to be in there.”
Fisher’s play eventually helped the Bobcats (15-3-3, 8-8-3 ECAC) force a 3-3 tie against No. 7 Yale (19-5-2, 14-3-2). Fisher stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced while in net.
Head coach Rand Pecknold was pleased with the tie, as it came against a very good Yale team and in comeback fashion.
“That’s a tough team to play against,” Pecknold said. “Being down 2-0 and 3-2 and coming back like that, we’re happy with that.”
Junior forward Matt Nelson scored Yale’s first goal almost seven minutes into the game. He received a pass from defenseman Ken Trentowski in the middle of the left circle and proceeded to take a shot that went past Clarke.
Yale notched another goal a little more than six minutes later, ultimately sealing Clarke’s fate. Junior forward Mark Arcobello received a pass from freshman Brian O’Neill and uncorked a shot that trickled through Clarke. After playing only 12:36 and allowing two goals, Clarke was relegated to the bench.
“It’s hard to pull the goalie that early in the game,” Pecknold said. “I just thought Clarke was fighting it early. He was nervous. Both goals: you can’t do that and win. It’s nice that I have Bud on the bench. He came in, played well and we got a point.”
The Bobcats were able to halve Yale’s early two-goal lead with a little more than three minutes remaining in the first period. Senior Chris Myers corralled a rebound and shot the puck past senior goaltender Alec Richards. Juniors Mike Atkinson and Jean-Marc Beaudoin were credited with the assists.
Quinnipiac then tied the game early in the second period when freshman Spencer Heichman scored his fourth goal of the season. Heichman, skating down the right side of the ice, received a pass from junior Greg Holt, and then proceeded to unleash a hard shot that exited the goal almost as fast as it had entered. The officials had to take an extra look at the play, but eventually determined that it was indeed a goal. Freshman Yuri Bouharevich got the secondary assist.
At 2-2, the Crazy Bobcats were into the action again. But the game didn’t stay tied for long. Yale scored a goal six minutes after Heichman had scored to give them a 3-2 lead. Arcobello received a pass from defenseman Ken Trentowski and shot from the left-hand circle that went over Fisher’s shoulder for his second goal of the game.
The goal shifted the momentum back to Yale’s side, and they held their 3-2 lead until 16:56 remaining in the third period. Holt took a shot from the right circle that was slowed by Richards but somehow slipped behind him to tie the game. Heichman assisted on the goal, making the pair involved in two of the Bobcats’ three goals.
The Bobcats and Bulldogs held each other scoreless for the final three minutes of regulation and five minutes of sudden-death overtime. The Bobcats were buoyed by Fisher’s strong play in net, in what was a confidence-booster for the goaltender.
During the week leading up to the game, Pecknold showed Fisher tapes from the 2006-07 playoff run that saw the Bobcats reach the ECAC Finals. Pecknold believed this played a factor in the game.
“I saw a little bit of the old Bud today,” Pecknold said. “I thought the confidence was there. He was aggressive.”
Though Fisher was satisfied with his and the team’s performances, he wanted more.
“We played with a lot of character tonight, coming back from being down,” Fisher said. “But at the same time, we can’t be happy with just a tie. If we did a few things differently then maybe we could’ve come out with a win.”
Fisher also looked toward the future.
“There are only a few games left and everything is really tight,” Fisher said. “We have to come out tomorrow and get two points.”
With the tie, the Bobcats were able to retain the “Heroes Hat” award. This honors those who lost or risked their lives on Sept. 11. Quinnipiac is now 5-2-1 all-time against Yale.
Photos by A. Vazzano