Bobcats fall to Union 4-3
by Seth Rothman
November 30, 2007
HAMDEN — The Bobcats played very much like their fans on Friday night at the TD Banknorth Sports Center.
They were late arriving.
After a listless first period that left coach Rand Pecknold perplexed, frustrated, angry, and annoyed, Quinnipiac (5-5-2, 2-3-2 ECAC) dropped their ECAC Hockey contest to Union (3-5-2, 1-2-2 ECAC) by a final of 4-3 in front of a late-arriving fan-base of 3,108.
“I thought the effort, for the most part, was disappointing,” Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold said. “I give us credit, being down 2-0 and 3-1 battling back into the game, but we just did not play well tonight. We really struggled with our intensity level. It was a pretty mediocre effort from our forwards, defense, and even the goaltender.”
The carnage started early for Quinnipiac. 65 seconds into the contest, Union’s Stephan Boileau found Mike Schreiber in the near circle for a wrister through the five-hole of Bobcats goalie Bud Fisher for the game’s first goal.
For the Dutchmen, getting that first goal was a welcome relief. In their previous three games, Union had given up the first goal of the contest, and getting the early goal relaxed the visitors from Schenectady.
“The last [three] games we got scored on in the first five or ten minutes, so tonight we really wanted to get out and put them back on their heels,” Union freshman forward Andrew Buote said. “It started on the fore-check, and once we put pressure on, we got the first goal and didn’t look back from there.”
“We’ve been playing good hockey, and we just didn’t have a lot to show for it,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “Tonight, the puck went in for us, and we got something to show for it. Most importantly, it was good for the guys in the locker room to prove that they can face adversity, they can come back on their own, and they can stick to a game-plan.”
“You have to give Union credit,” Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold said. “We were 5-0 against them last year, which is hard to do. They wanted it more. They had a lot more energy, and they were the better team tonight. They deserved to win.”
“We had a slow start, and they caught us,” Bobcats sophomore Brandon Wong said. “We just have to be prepared at the first drop of the puck.”
After Union’s Torren Delforte added a power play goal 11 minutes later, the Bobcats went into the first intermission down 2-0, and hearing rare boos from the fans at the TD Banknorth Sports Center. According to Pecknold, the vitriol was deserved.
“I think last year we overachieved because we played hungry,” Pecknold said. “For lack of a better term, the kids wanted it. They wanted to prove something. We have so many returning players this year, they just don’t want it as badly.”
There was one bright spot for the Bobcats tonight. That was the line of Wong, Jean-Marc Beaudoin, and Mike Atkinson. Wong and Beaudoin combined to score all three goals the home team sent into the twine.
“Our line came out tonight pretty well, but not good enough,” a frustrated Wong said. “Personally, I probably picked it up a little bit. We’re just trying to work on it, every day.”
“They played well. Brandon’s getting it going a little bit, Jean-Marc’s been real good all year, and Mike Atkinson certainly provides a lot of energy,” Pecknold said. “They were good at times tonight. They were probably our best line.”
“Wong was on tonight, and when he’s on, he’s as good a player as there is in the league,” Leaman added.
It was Beaudoin who electrified the crowd with two goals within 1:47 of the second period, tying the game at 3 when his second goal entered the twine with 18.5 seconds remaining in the middle stanza.
It was his first goal, however — a shorthanded tally at 17:55 of the second — that brought the score to 3-2, and amazed the faithful at the TD Banknorth Sports Center.
Beaudoin took the puck near the goal-line, and shot it at a near impossible angle towards the net. After ping-ponging around the pads of Union goalie Corey Milan, the rubber finally found its way into the net.
“I think it hit the defenseman in front and went in,” Beaudoin said. “You just have to shoot and shoot some more. Get those lucky bounces.”
His second goal — the tying goal that came with 18.5 seconds showing on the clock — tied the game and sent the Quinnipiac student section into short-lived delirium when Wong won the offensive faceoff and sent it to Beaudoin in the slot. He wristed it through the pads of Milan to tie the game and energize the Bobcats as they went off the ice for the second intermission.
“I think it got the guys a little fired up,” Beaudoin said. “Our intensity wasn’t there tonight, unfortunately. We wanted to win, we just couldn’t get the bounces.”
After controlling the first few minutes of the third period, the Bobcats gave up the back-breaker. Nearly 11 minutes into the frame, Greg Holt took the puck and tried gently lifting it out of the zone.
Union’s Lane Caffaro kept the puck in, and took a shot that was deflected in by Andrew Buote for his first goal of the season — and the game winning goal to fell the home team.
“That fourth goal was just… it was bad,” Pecknold lamented. “We didn’t get the puck out; that kid just needs to take it and rip it off the glass to get it out. Then he follows it up with not blocking a shot. When you make a mistake like that, you need to drop, sprawl out and eat the puck.”
“I think they tried to rip it around, Lane shot it from the blue line, and I happened to get a stick on it, and send it through [Fisher’s] five hole,” Buote said.
“I was real proud of the guys; I thought they faced a lot of adversity,” Leaman said. “They regrouped in the third period and gutted it out.”
“One of the things that made us good last year was we did a great job blocking shots,” Pecknold said. We’re not doing a good job of that right now. That’s not our only problem, but that’s certainly a problem.”
After two saves by Corey Milan in the final minutes on breakaway attempts by David Marshall, and a flurry by the Bobcats thanks to a Union penalty with 3:02 left, Union had their first ECAC Hockey win of the season.
For Pecknold, he’s been singing the same tune all year.
Quinnipiac’s lack of hunger.
“We’re struggling with our competitiveness right now,” Pecknold said. “The guys all know. I could march them in here right now and they’d say the same thing I’m saying. It’s just a little frustrating.”
Meanwhile, the Bobcats were playing without two of their captains, Jamie Bates and Matt Sorteberg. Multiple members of Quinnipiac Sports Information Office refused comment when asked about the nature of their injuries.
“Bates is our best forward, or certainly one of our best forwards. I think he would have been a factor tonight. That’s a tough loss,” Pecknold said. “That’s not the reason we lost tonight. Maybe it contributed a little bit, but our competitiveness was just very hit and miss.”
For Wong, the loss of one of the team’s top players added some extra pressure to shoulders that didn’t need the extra heat.
“There’s always pressure. You can’t point fingers at one guy. You have to play as a team, and that’s been lacking all year,” Wong said.
So now, the Bobcats look ahead to tomorrow’s contest against #18 ranked Rensselaer.
“RPI does different things, so you always adjust to the team you’re going to play,” Pecknold said. “We have our set things that we do, we’re not going to change that. We just need to execute better and play harder. We’ll certainly have to make some adjustments, because RPI is a good team.”
“We’re getting ready for tomorrow,” Beaudoin said. “We have to look forward instead of backwards.”