Top Line Feasts on Tigers, Quinnipiac Defeats Princeton 5-2
By Jamie Palatini
PRINCETON, New Jersey — When your first line combines for four goals and six assists, it makes winning that much easier.
That was the case Wednesday night as Quinnipiac (5-3-2, 2-1-2 ECAC) traveled to historic Hobey Baker Rink and beat Princeton (3-4-0, 2-3-0 ECAC) 5-2 for their second win against the Tigers in four days. The win put the Bobcats in a tie for third in the conference.
Quinnipiac’s line of Bryan Leitch, Ben Nelson, and team captain Jamie Bates accounted for nearly all of the offense in this game. Coach Rand Pecknold spoke highly of his first line.
“They played really well tonight. It was definitely the best game of the year for them. They got it done when we needed it.”
Leitch and Bates had a goal and three assists apiece, and Nelson chipped in with two goals and an assist. Bates’ four point night tied his career high which he accomplished last year against RPI. The Captain certainly recognizes the chemistry this line has.
“We’ve played together now going on three years, and we definitely have some good chemistry going,” Bates said. “We were a little slow at the beginning of the year, but it’s really starting to kick in for us now.”
Quinnipiac dominated Princeton in the first period. Bryan Leitch started the scoring for the Bobcats with a power play goal 8:13 into the stanza. Ben Nelson put a wraparound past Princeton goaltender Zane Kalemba four and a half minutes later, and it was 2-0 Quinnipiac.
Princeton came out firing in the 2nd period though, scoring two goals of their own to tie the game at two. Mike Kramer and Lee Jubinville each scored five minutes apart to swing the momentum back in Princeton’s favor.
The turning point of the game came with just one minute remaining in the second period. Ben Nelson hit a slap shot into the top right corner for his second goal of the game, giving Quinnipiac a 3-2 edge before heading into the second intermission. It was a lead they would not relinquish. Coach Pecknold felt a big difference for the Bobcats has been the commitment of his forwards to get back on the defensive end.
“Yeah, we’ve been working a lot on it. One of our biggest weaknesses is our backchecking, so we’ve been focusing on that,” Pecknold said. “We’re obviously a better team when we backcheck and pick up their guys.”
This was the second of three games in eight days between the two teams. Pecknold understands that despite wins in the first two games for the Bobcats, the final one against Princeton will be very difficult.
“Princeton’s going to come out hard. It’s going to be a difficult game for us… even though it’s at our rink on Saturday, I think Princeton has the advantage,” Pecknold said.
These games are very important for Quinnipiac not only for the ECAC standings, but for RPI rankings as well. Prior to playing Quinnipiac, Princeton recorded wins at Cornell and at Colgate. Three consecutive wins against Princeton will be helpful in boosting Quinnipiac’s RPI ranking and at-large status. Quinnipiac and Princeton end their three game series Saturday afternoon up at the TD Banknorth Sports Center. The puck will drop at 3:36 PM, and will be televised live on the New England Sports Network (NESN).