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Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey earns first win of the season
Odeen Tufto scores twice in the Bobcats’ 3-2 overtime win over Vermont
No. 17 Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team (1-1-1) earned its first win of the season over Vermont (1-2-0) on Saturday afternoon. Freshman forward Odeen Tufto scored his first two collegiate goals, including the game-winner in overtime as the Bobcats were finally able to close out a regular season game.“It’s nice to win at home, especially in overtime,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I thought we had a great first, should have been up by a couple…I thought we had a good second, I thought we struggled in the third (period) and they found a way to tie it. We were great there in the overtime and we’ll take our win and run.”
Tufto’s game-winning goal came off of a rebound from a shot by sophomore defenseman Brogan Rafferty from the point. Vermont goalie Stefanos Lekkas saved Rafferty’s shot, but couldn’t contain the a bouncing puck to Tufto, who backhanded the rebound into the net as he was falling.
“(Tufto is) really good. He’s got a lot of poise and I thought he made plays in the first, second and he obviously the two goals tonight,” Pecknold said. “We need that right now, we need some forwards to step up and possess the puck and make plays for us.”
Tufto now has four points on the year, as he recorded an assist in each of the team’s first two games. This makes him the first freshman to get a point in his first three games since junior captain defenseman Chase Priskie did it in the 2015-16 season, who started six-straight games with a point.
“I feel good out there. It comes with the players you play with. I’ve been with (senior forward) Landon (Smith) all three games and then tonight with (senior forward) Tanner (MacMaster),” Tufto said. Playing with those guys, who are both seniors and both know the ropes, they’ve just kind of taken me under their wing and just help me through it. I think definitely playing with those guys gives you confidence.”After missing time due to an injury sustained against Boston College last week, Priskie returned to the lineup on Saturday. Sophomore goalie Andrew Shortridge also returned to the ice against the Catamounts, getting the start over freshman goalie Keith Petruzzelli in the on-going battle for the starting job.
Shortridge stopped 22 of Vermont’s 24 shots for a .917 save percentage. On the other end, Lekkas stopped 34 of 37 shots for a .919 save percentage. The two goals that Shortridge allowed came off of juicy rebounds.
Vermont junior forward Liam Coughlin scored the game’s first goal when he took a wrist shot from the slot after Shortridge made the initial save. However, the puck went into the air and landed back to Coughlin, who took another shot from the faceoff circle and snuck one by Shortridge.
The goal put the Catamounts up 1-0 with 16:37 remaining in the second period.
After hitting four posts in the first period, the Bobcats got on the board 35 seconds after Vermont’s first goal, when Tufto scored his first.
“I’ve had chances in the last two games,” Tufto said. “My linemates are great. Tanner MacMaster and Landon Smith, I mean when I’m playing with them, good things are going to happen, so it was good to finally find the back of the net.”
The Bobcats scored again before the end of the period, when MacMaster’s goal put the Bobcats up 2-1 with 56 seconds left in the period. MacMaster won a puck battle along the boards, skated to the slot and got a wrist shot that went through Lekkas’ five-hole.
“I think we played really well,” MacMaster said on his line’s play. “We’re a new line, we started playing together this week. I thought we gelled well. Me and Tufto are a couple of skilled guys and (Landon Smith’s) the shooter.”
Vermont’s second goal came with 8:27 remaining in the third period and had some Connecticut ties to it as well. Freshman Alex Esposito, who is hails from West Haven, took a shot from the slot that Shortridge saved, but he was unable to control the rebound. Junior New Canaan native Craig Puffer dove for the rebound in front and tipped the puck in, to tie up the game.
Both teams were unable to score during the rest of regulation, making it the third time in as many games that Quinnipiac saw overtime.
Tufto’s game-winning goal came with 2:33 remaining in overtime, avoiding the possibility of Quinnipiac not getting a win in their first three games.“It was huge. That was the third game in a row that we’ve gone to OT. We needed a win,” Tufto said. “The last two games, and this one, we gave up goals in the third. We just needed that to get a streak going.”
The Bobcats travel to Northeastern for a weekend series next Friday and Saturday. Last season, Quinnipiac won one game and tied the other in its series against the Huskies last season.