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Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey swept by UMass Amherst
The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team is truly in a slump and can’t seem to shake it off, as it lost both games of a home-and-home against out-of-conference opponent UMass Amherst.
On Saturday, it wasn’t a tight, one-goal game like Friday night’s contest, but a 6-3 loss to a young Minutemen team, despite pouring 50 shots on goal and allowing just 19 against.
“Last night we found a way to win a game that we didn’t deserve and tonight we were opportunistic,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said. “They had a lot of shots, but I’m not so sure the shot total really reflected the game.”
From the get-go, the Bobcats were flat.
Unlike most nights, Quinnipiac was on its heels in the early minutes of the first as it had trouble moving the puck in the neutral zone and as a result, was unable to make plays in the offensive zone.
The Minutemen struck first, just 5:50 into play, when natural freshman defenseman Cale Makar (Colorado’s 2017 fourth-overall draft pick) showcased his raw talent. He entered the zone, made a few skilled moves to evade multiple Bobcats and threw the puck to open space, where senior Nik Rufo buried a shot from the slot.
Just 1:04 later, Quinnipiac junior defenseman Brandon Fortunato was the last defenseman back and got tangled up with a UMass forward at the red line. The mishap led to a breakaway for Minutemen forward Oliver Chau, who faked forehand and beat freshman Keith Petruzzelli five-hole for a 2-0 lead.
While the Bobcats took 15 first period shots, just one managed to squeak by Minutemen goalie Ryan Wischow.
The goal came at 16:35 in the period and off the stick of sophomore forward Logan Mick. Junior defenseman Luke Shiplo fired a shot on net from a bad angle, but Mick tipped home his first career collegiate goal to give life to his team going into the second period.
Regularly a healthy scratch, Mick — one of Quinnipiac’s few bright spots in tonight’s contest — brought the desperation and intensity the Bobcats need in just his third game this season.
“He played hard, played his role and chipped in with a goal, so I was really happy with him,” Quinnipiac head coach Pecknold added.
The second period of play began no different than the first, as UMass forward Mitchell Chaffee buried his second goal in as many nights, just 51 seconds in, to give the Minutemen a 3-1 lead.
Then after a failed Quinnipiac power play which saw quality scoring chances, the Minutemen capitalized on an odd-man rush. After a 2-on-1 break gave him space, Rufo faked forehand, opened up Petruzzelli and scored his second of the night to give his team a 4-1 lead.
The swing from chances in the offensive zone one minute, then the puck in the back of the net on the other end shortly after is indicative of where this team stands 12 games into the season.
“We’re just not finishing our chances…the puck is just not going in for us right now,” Pecknold said. “Beyond that, we’re just not doing a good enough job defensively. So we’re not giving up a lot of shots, but breakaways and 2-on-1s.”
Despite Quinnipiac’s continuous effort to pile shots on Wischow — 20 total in the second period alone — the Bobcats remained off the scoresheet throughout the second.
The third period saw more early scoring from UMass. Just 4:28 into the frame, Chau netted his second of the night to put his team up 5-1 and at the same time, essentially the dagger in the game.
About four minutes later, sophomore forward Alex Whelan turned on the jets, side-stepped a defenseman and scored, what is now a textbook Alex Whelan goal. His quick snap shot beat Wischow high and over his glove to give the Bobcats some life.
With less than two minutes left to play, junior defenseman Brandon Fortunato scored Quinnipiac’s third goal of the night on a set play off the faceoff. The tally was Fortunato’s first goal and point as a Bobcat since transferring from Boston University two seasons ago.
Despite the typical, desperate effort towards the end of the third, it was simply too little and too late.
“There’s a lot of things going on now, but we’ll turn it around, we’ll get it going,” Pecknold said. “We just got to get better buy-in, and let our character come through and start playing to our identity on a consistent basis.”
Next up, Quinnipiac resumes ECAC play when it travels to Princeton on Tuesday, Nov. 28 in hopes of steering the ship back on course.