- Arts & Life
There wasn’t a single shot Eric Hartzell couldn’t handle Saturday evening as he and the Bobcat defense shut out Robert Morris by a score of 4-0 in the High Point Solutions Arena at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden.
The victory over Robert Morris marks Hartzell’s first shutout on the young season. A week ago in the season opener against No. 15 Maine, Hartzell neutralized the Black Bears by stopping 31-of-32 shots. This afternoon, he stopped all 16. again Robert Morris (0-1) His team believes he can be a key to their success this season.
“He’s reliable back there for us and that’s part of the reason why the defense is playing so good. We know back there that he’s not going to let anything from the outside in,” said senior Loren Barron after the game. “As long as we’re doing our job and he’s doing his job we should see a lot of shutouts this year.”
The Bobcats (2-0) began the game with a fast pace however, they could not link together passes in order to create scoring chances. Robert Morris matched their energy and at the midpoint of the first period the Colonials were ahead in shots on goal by a count of 5-3. For both teams it was an open, back-and-forth style of play.
Robert Morris was without a plethora of opportunities, but the ones they did manage from the Bobcat defense were strong. Hartzell rejected each of the seven shots thrown at him in the first period. Only to be outdone by his counterpart, Eric Levine, who was manning the net for Robert Morris. Levine stopped each of the 10 shots the Bobcats sent his direction in the first period. The first frame concluded in a 0-0 gridlock.
Rand Pecknold’s squad came out of the locker room for the second period with an effort that was more indicative of their No. 18 national ranking in the USCHO.com Division I Poll. Quinnipiac would score two goals in the second to take a 2-0 lead. The first came at the 8:53 mark when Loren Barron put a puck in front of the net and Russell Goodman deflected it just over the glove of Levine.
The Bobcat squad came alive once holding the 1-0 lead. Cory Hibbeler pushed the Bobcat lead to two with an acrobatic goal into the top right corner of the net in the periods 17th minute. Forward Jeremy Langlois was battling for the puck along the right side boards in the Robert Morris zone. Falling down, he pushed the puck forward to Jordan Samuels-Thomas who redirected it in front of the net to a streaking Hibbler. Hibbler crossed up a defender, bringing the puck from the left to the right side of his body. In doing so he fell down but while sliding managed a backhanded goal into the top right corner of the net.
After each goal the confidence of the Bobcat team grew.
“I think everyone was a little nervous,” senior defensemen Loren Barron said. “Everyone was waiting to break the seal and every goal that we got things just got better and better. Guys just brought up their tempo and their emotion levels and guys were getting more excited to play and score goals.”
The Bobcats held a decisive advantage in scoring opportunities in the second period with a 14-6 edge.
Quinnipiac carried the momentum into the third period. Just five minutes in, Barron took a cross-ice pass from Mike Dalhuisen and one-timed a rocket over the shoulder of Levine into the top right hand corner of the net. Coach Pecknold said after the game that Barron’s goal put the game out of reach for Robert Morris.
For the remainder of the third period the Bobcats showcased their offensive skill with their ability to control the puck in the Robert Morris zone.
Tempers rose after the Bobcats took the 3-0 lead. A scrum in front of Hartzell resulted in Zack Tolkinen sitting down for two with a roughing penalty in addition to Alex Barron’s longer 10-minute sentence for game misconduct. Playing a man down didn’t slow the Bobcats. Langlois took a pass from Clay Harvey and put it by Robert Morris goaltender Levine to make it a 4-0 game.
The third period was physical with eight penalties levied against the two teams – more than the total of seven in the first two periods. The teams exchanged pleasantries after the final whistle and hosted a rambunctious handshake line. The Bobcats will see the Colonials soon, in a 1 p.m. game Sunday, looking to start the season off a perfect 3-0.