Men’s ice hockey drops bout to Connecticut
Huskies win first game of the season
Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey head coach Rand Pecknold was very candid in his postgame press conference Tuesday night in regards to why his team has struggled so far in the 2014-15 season.
On a night where the Bobcats suffered a 4-1 loss to Connecticut at Webster Bank Arena – and had fallen to 1-2-1 on the season – Pecknold made no excuses.
“We’re just struggling to find our identity,” Pecknold said. “We’ll find it, and we’ll get it going and be really good this year. Right now we’re just struggling.”
Pecknold added that losing the likes of Connor Jones, Kellen Jones, Jordan Samuels-Thomas and Cory Hibbeler, among others, has contributed largely to Quinnipiac’s struggles.
“It’s a pretty good chunk to lose, and we lost a lot the year before, too,” Pecknold said. “So now we’re asking some of our guys that didn’t really have big roles last year to step up into bigger roles and they’re struggling to adapt. It’s all across the board. We need a bigger buy in.”
The Bobcats outshot UConn 85-30, but UConn goalie Rob Nichols made 36 saves in the winning effort.
“I think that this is the first game we’ve played well for 60 minutes,” Connecticut head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “Our goaltender, Robbie, played outstanding. I’m really proud of our guys for the effort.”
“We got pucks deep, we blocked a lot of shots, and we tried to limit their time in space,” Nichols said. “I think that was the difference.”
UConn got on the board first, netting its first power play goal of the season. With 4:47 left in the first stanza, senior Jacob Poe shot one through traffic that was redirected by Evan Richardson past Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig’s left pad, giving the Huskies a 1-0 advantage.
The goal was Richardson’s first of the 2014-15 season.
“We talk about mistakes all the time, and someone’s got to bail you out when that happens,” Pecknold said. “[On the first goal] our net-front [defensemen] – all he has to do is box the kid out from the goal. He just has to step in front of him, it’s the simplest play — but its a lack of buy in.”
The Huskies weren’t done, however. Just before the period ended senior Trevor Gerling cleaned up a Spencer Naas shot to give UConn a 2-0 lead.
Garteig was then pulled to start the second period of play, and freshman Sean Lawrence took over in net for the Bobcats.
“I was trying to win the hockey game,” Pecknold said. “Trying to get somebody to get hot and make some saves for us.”
Sam Anas made it 2-1 in the opening moments of the second period, finding the back of the net just 43 seconds after play began. Anas found the loose puck in front of the net and put it home. Taylor MacMaster and Matthew Peca were each credited with an assist on the play.
With the goal, Peca and Anas both stretched their point streak to four games to begin the season.
Connecticut would respond, pushing the lead back to two goals when Patrick Kirtland netted his second goal of the season past Lawrence from the slot to make it 3-1 Huskies.
Pecknold then elected to put Garteig back in net for Quinnipiac.
The Huskies would put away an empty-netter in the game’s final minute to make it 4-1, and handed the Bobcats their second loss of the season.
Pecknold acknowledged the team’s struggles in goal so far, but added that he fully expects Garteig, the team’s starter, to find his way.
“I’m concerned, yeah,” Pecknold said. “[Garteig is] a great goalie. He’ll be fine. He’s going to have a really big year, he’s just got to figure it out. And he will.”
Quinnipiac has the weekend off before returning to action on Nov. 1 against Northeastern at High Point Solutions Arena.
“We just have a bunch of our really good players in a bit of a slump right now,” Pecknold said. “That perplexes me; I don’t understand it. We’ve got a bit of time before we play Northeastern, though, so we’ll right the ship.”