Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey blanks Brown 3-0 in Providence
The Bobcats pick up a key late-season win as ECAC Hockey play winds down
Junior defenseman Brandon Fortunato, senior forward Kevin Duane and freshman Joe O’Connor (first career collegiate goal) had goals for the Bobcats, while sophomore goalie Andrew Shortridge earned his fifth shutout of the season.
“I thought we were pretty good. I thought our first period was a little shady at times, we just didn’t play hard enough, but we found a way,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “[O’Connor] gets a nice goal and [Shortridge] was excellent, he was our best player tonight.”
Despite a lackluster performance in the opening frame as a whole, the Bobcats opened the scoring six minutes into the first period. Junior defenseman John Furgele found O’Connor in the slot who fired a quick snapshot under Brown goalie Luke Kania’s glove.
A natural defenseman, O’Connor’s first goal of his collegiate career came as a forward, a role he’s still getting used to in his fifth game this season.
“It feels awesome,” O’Connor said. “… I feel like every game I get a little more comfortable. It’s definitely different for sure, but a couple more games here and I think I’ll be in full stride.”Just 55 seconds into the second period, the Bobcats extended their lead when Fortunato stripped the puck away from a defenseman at his own blue line and muscled his way to a breakaway. After gaining space, he dropped his shoulder and snuck a shot past Kania for his fourth of the season.
After not scoring in his first 25 games, Fortunato now has three goals in his last four games.
The majority of the second period contained back-and-forth, relatively unproductive action from both sides, until Duane scored his second goal of the season.
Sophomore defenseman Karlis Cukste saw a seam and made a heads-up outlet pass to a streaking Duane up the middle. Once he had the puck, Duane flicked the puck off the bar and into the back of the net for a 3-0 Quinnipiac lead.
Unlike most of the season, Quinnipiac’s top line was held off the scoresheet tonight, but secondary scoring played an important part in tonight’s win, something the Bobcats desperately need on a consistent basis as they inch closer to the ECAC Hockey playoffs.
“Hey, we need goals,” Pecknold added. “Wherever they come from, it doesn’t matter, but we have to score some goals for sure.”
Despite senior assistant captain defenseman Kevin McKernan’s unknown absence from lineup (junior defenseman Luke Shiplo moved back to take his place), Shortridge continued his stellar play into the third period, making six of his 22 total saves in the final frame.
With his fifth shutout of the season, Shortridge moved into T-2nd in the nation in that category, behind only Clarkson’s Jake Kielly (7) and Cornell’s Matthew Galajda (7).“We needed these two points. This game was huge,” Shortridge said of the win. “Just taking it shot by shot [and] shift by shift, it helps me build off anything I can to put together a good game.”
After Yale’s weekend sweep and Quinnipiac’s .500 weekend, the Bobcats sit as the ninth seed in the ECAC Hockey standings.
“We’re definitely building to take this momentum into the rest of the regular season and then playoffs,” Shortridge added. “Today was a huge game, but every game is going to be just as big if not bigger.”
The Bobcats look to carry that momentum forward in their next game on Feb. 16 against Union in Hamden.