Bobcats Criss-Cross the Crusaders
Offensive surge powers QU to first-ever win at the TD Banknorth Sports Center
By: Chris Lopresti
WQAQ Hockey Beat Writer
January 29, 2007
HAMDEN, Conn. – As Judy Garland once said, “There’s no place like home!” Wizard of Oz references aside, Sunday’s 7-0 triumph over Holy Cross marked a special occasion for the Quinnipiac Men’s Hockey program. Playing their inaugural game at the TD Banknorth Sports Center, the Bobcats showed why they, in part, are well worth the $52 million investment made by the University to build a new facility.
The program has come a long way since Rand Pecknold took over as the head coach in 1994. Over the course of 13 years, he has taken his team from the depths of Division III hockey to the spotlight of the ECAC. Entering Sunday’s action, the Bobcats found themselves ranked 20th in the country with a first-round playoff bye well within their grasps.
That sort of success is what convinced the University to upgrade from the cluttered confines of the Northford Ice Pavilion. Yesterday’s official transition into the new building marked a new chapter for the hockey program and for the University as a whole.
The arena itself is a majestic site but the atmosphere surrounding the game was electric. 3,000 or so screaming fans, a National Anthem performance by John Amirante and a ceremonial puck-drop by Hall-of-Famer Gordie Howe were just a few of the things that made this game special.
A sea of gold shirts, the freshly painted sheet of ice, a beautiful scoreboard, luxury boxes; every aspect of the experience had a professional feel to it. Then there was the game itself…
To no one’s surprise, the Bobcats came out flying in the first period and never let up. For a full 60 minutes, they out-hustled, out-hit, out-scored and brutally out-played an overmatched Holy Cross team.
That being said, the entire arena grew restless with anticipation for a time, as the game remained scoreless into the 2nd period. Finally, 6:27 into the second frame, a Matt Sorteberg wrist shot from the right point found the back of the net, Quinnipiac had its first goal in their new home and the fans broke out into hysteria!
They would have much more to cheer about, however, as special teams became the focal point of the contest. With Mike Atkinson serving a 2-minute hooking call, the Bobcats went to work on the penalty kill. However, it looked like Quinnipiac had the advantage as Eric Lampe (3 goals in 23 career games) took the puck from inside his own blue line, stick-handled through the Crusader defense and beat Ian Dams with a deke to the backhand; 2-0 Quinnipiac on a short-handed goal.
Not to be outdone, Lampe’s line-mate Dan LeFort (3 goals in 65 career games) got a long pass from Reid Cashman up the right wing, coasted in on net and put the puck top shelf over Dams for the second short-handed goal in just 31 seconds. In the blink of an eye, all of the momentum belonged to the Bobcats and the game was, in essence, OVER!
Bryan Leitch would add his eighth goal of the year just 1:11 later, Bud Fisher made 14 saves for his 12th win of the season, and when all was said and done, seven different players lit the lamp for QU (including four goals by special teams) in a shutout romp.
The University, the coaches, the players and the fans could not have asked for a better house-warming gift. A win was the perfect way to christen a new beginning for Quinnipiac Hockey and that’s exactly what occurred. The Bobcats have a beautiful new home where they will play for many years to come. If Sunday’s outcome is any indication of what the future may hold for this program, then there truly is “no place like home!”