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Bobcats prepare for first conference homestand
The No. 7 Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team (6-3-1, 1-1 ECAC) will host Dartmouth (2-0-1, 1-0-1) on Friday night and No. 10 Harvard (3-0-1, 1-0-1) Saturday night in a rematch of last season’s ECAC championship game.
The Bobcats are coming off a road trip last weekend where they split their first two conference games of the season with a 5-3 win over Clarkson on Friday and a 2-0 loss against St. Lawrence on Saturday.
Senior forward Tim Clifton scored two goals for the Bobcats against Clarkson, adding to his team-leading five goals on the season. Clifton’s first goal broke the Bobcats power play drought where they didn’t score on their last 23 power plays.
“We’re simplifying. We’re not trying to do much,” Clifton said. “Each guy knows his role and what he’s there to do. A real big key to finding success is just simplifying and getting back to things that cause goals.”
Clifton also assisted a goal scored by junior defenseman Kevin McKernan, which gave him his eighth point on the season, tying him with the team lead.
Junior forward Tanner MacMaster and freshman defenseman Karlis Custke also scored in the Bobcats’ win over Clarkson.
Freshman goaltender Andrew Shortridge saved 25 shots against Clarkson to give him his second win on the season in his third start.
“Andrew’s young, he’s a freshman, he made a couple of mistakes,” Bobcats head coach Rand Pecknold said. “But he was really good.”
Quinnipiac ranks 47 out of 60 teams in the country in power play percentage, converting on just 11.94 percent of their power play opportunities.
The Bobcats went 0-6 on the power play in Saturday night’s 2-0 loss against St. Lawrence.
“We had our chances,” Pecknold said. “We just couldn’t finish. We hit a couple off the pipes.”
Junior goaltender Chris Truehl started his sixth game of the season and got his second loss in his 32-save performance against the Saints.
“I thought Truehl was really good,” Pecknold said. “They scored two goals on two breakaways. A couple of mistakes there that we paid the price for.”
Pecknold didn’t comment on the starting goalie situation for the upcoming weekend.
The Bobcats swept both regular season meetings against Dartmouth last season with a 6-2 victory at home and a 7-5 win on the road where the Bobcats scored five unanswered goals in the third period.
Quinnipiac also defeated Dartmouth for a third time in the 2015-2016 ECAC tournament semifinals by a score of 3-1.
The Big Green are coming off a weekend where they tied Cornell and beat Colgate. Dartmouth also defeated No. 18 Michigan last month in their only other game this season.
Senior forward Troy Crema leads Dartmouth with two goals and the starting goaltender, Devin Buffalo, has a .957 save percentage and 0.97 goals against average this season.
The Bobcats won all three meetings against Harvard last year with a 4-1 win at home, a 5-4 overtime victory at Madison Square Garden, and a 4-1 win in the ECAC championship game at Lake Placid.
The Crimson are coming off a weekend where they tied Colgate and defeated Cornell. The team averages 4.5 goals per game this season, led by sophomore forward Lewis Zerter-Gossage, who has four goals on the year.
“They have really good forwards,” senior defenseman Derek Smith said. “As a team, we have to take time and space away from them. And I think the last couple of years we’ve done a pretty good job with them.”
Senior forward Luke Esposito is tied for the team lead with six points. Bobcats fans may remember Esposito for his hit against Sam Anas in the ECAC championship game last season that left Anas with an upper-body injury for the remainder of the year.
Junior goaltender Merrick Madsen has started all four games for the Crimson this season with a .931 save percentage and a 1.47 goals against average.
“We’ll certainly prepare for Dartmouth, we’ll prepare for Harvard,” Pecknold said. “But I think right now it’s more about us and preparing us as a hockey team.”
The Bobcats won’t play at home again after this weekend until Dec. 2 against Rensselaer.