Men’s ice hockey tops Harvard in ECAC title game rematch

By on November 12, 2016

In a hard-fought battle between two of the top-10 teams in the country, No. 7/8 Quinnipiac defeated No. 10/10 Harvard by a score of 4-2 at High Point Solutions Arena on Saturday.

img_4502Erin Kane | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

“It’s a good, resilient win. I thought Harvard was really good tonight,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I was proud of the way the guys battled. It wasn’t our best effort, but we found a way to win.”

With the victory, the Bobcats came away from their weekend home stand with two ECAC wins.

“It was a big weekend, our first sweep of the year,” sophomore Chase Priskie said. “We need those points to stay ahead in our division and try to get up there, so it was a huge weekend.”

Harvard came into Hamden with a 4-0-1 overall record. The Crimson were 2-0-1 in conference play having not yet played a nationally ranked team.

Harvard’s line chart boasts eight NHL prospects, including Junior goaltender Merrick Madsen who came into the game with a career 22-7-4 record, .930 save percentage and 1.95 goals against average.

The Bobcats overcame the Crimson’s talent, even after being outshot 32-21.

img_4527Erin Kane | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

“What we’re supposed to do is get in attack mode,” Pecknold said of his team’s approach to talented offensive teams like Harvard. “We weren’t really in that. We were more in defend mode. We were in our dime defense tonight so that’s not how we want to play.”

The Bobcats got off to a quick start, drawing a holding penalty by Sean Malone just 16 seconds into the game. Quinnipiac capitalized on the power-play opportunity on a hard wrist shot from the point by Brogan Rafferty with 18:46 remaining in the first period. Chase Priskie and Tim Clifton picked up assists on the play.

The Crimson struck back with 11:34 to play in the first when Alexander Kerfoot hit Viktor Dombrovskiy with a slick pass before cutting behind the net. Goaltender Chris Truehl and the Bobcats defense followed Kerfoot to the weak side post, leaving plenty of space for Dombrovskiy’s one-timer.

img_4546Erin Kane | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Harvard came out flying in the second, taking a 2-1 lead just 24 seconds into the period. This time it was Malone who found the back of the net for Harvard as he cut across the front of the net form the corner, firing a shot and picking up his own rebound.

Harvard dominated possession throughout the first half of the second period, but Quinnipiac weathered the storm.

The Bobcats regained momentum off a goal by Craig Martin. The sophomore forward curled to the outside on a rush and let go of a hard wrist shot that squeaked between Madsen’s glove and pad.

From there, the Bobcats pressured Madsen, who was forced to make some flashy saves.

The Bobcats beat the Crimson goaltender once again when Andrew Taverner curled behind Harvard’s net on the power play, feeding Luke Shiplo with a pass through traffic. Shiplo stutter-stepped at the top of the circles to open up a shooting lane and fired a glove-side wrist shot to give the Bobcats a 3-2 lead with 2:43 remaining in the period.

Quinnipiac went two for five on the power play, which was a big step forward after their power play had been struggling.

“I think they’re just getting more reps in practice,” Martin said of his team’s power-play unit. “It’s a whole new unit this year after losing a bunch of guys, and we’re starting to click more lately.”

The Bobcats would take that lead into the second intermission despite a 26-16 deficit in shots.

img_4478-2Erin Kane | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Both teams tightened things up defensively in the third period.

The game came down to a penalty kill for the Bobcats after Derek Smith went to the box for a cross-check with 2:44 left in the game. Harvard moved the puck well on the power play, but couldn’t break down the Bobcats’ penalty kill unit.

The Bobcats killed all five penalties they took. Pecknold attributes a lot of his team’s success on the penalty kill to Truehl, who started both of Quinnipiac’s games this weekend.

“He’s reading the play well,” Pecknold said. “He’s getting out, he’s challenging when he needs to challenge, and he’s handling his rebounds so I think that’s been a big reason our [penalty kill] has been a success.”

With 24.8 seconds remaining in the game, Tommy Schutt chased down a puck in the neutral zone while Harvard’s net was empty. After narrowly winning the race, Schutt dove and chopped at the puck, which found the back of the net from behind the blue line. Schutt’s empty net goal sealed the victory for Quinnipiac.

With the win, the Bobcats improve to 7-3-1 overall with a 3-1-0 ECAC record. Quinnipiac will travel to New York next weekend, taking on Cornell in Ithaca on Friday and Colgate in Hamilton on Saturday.

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Class of 2019