Bobcats battle to tie with Union

Bobcats battle to tie with Union
by Seth Rothman
February 2, 2007

It’s not often emotions spill over to the traditional post-game handshake between two teams after collegiate hockey games.

On Saturday night, after Quinnipiac tied Union 3-3, that’s exactly what happened. A skirmish broke out during the post-game handshake line after a Union player said something to Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold that angered the 14th-year Bobcats coach.

It was just the end of an odd night in Schenectady. Quinnipiac ended the second period leading 1-0, got insurance early in the third, lost their two goal lead in a span of 1:23, got it back with a goal nearly 12 minutes into the third, only to give it back with just over 2 minutes left on an extra attacker goal. That’s where the scoring ended, with both teams having put the puck into the twine three times.

Quinnipiac (15-7-4, 7-3-4 ECAC) and Union ( 12-9-4, 7-4-3 ECAC) played to a scoreless draw through the first period, but it was the Bobcats who struck first thanks to a lucky bounce.

Sophomore Brandon Wong came in on an odd-man break, and tried finding linemate Jean-Marc Beaudoin. Instead, the puck bounced towards Union defender Mike Harr. He misplayed it right to the stick of captain Jamie Bates who roofed it past Dutchmen goaltender Corey Milan to give the Bobcats the 1-0 lead 9:23 into the second stanza.

That’s where the score stood through two intermissions. But in the third period, the penalty bug struck Union, and it helped to give the Bobcats some insurance. Union’s Brendan Milnamow took a run at Quinnipiac’s Eric Lampe, and on the ensuing power play, Zach Hansen’s worm-burner got deflected high by Bates for his second of the game to give Quinnipiac the 2-0 lead with 17:44 left in the contest.

But this one was just getting started.

7:19 into the third, Milnamow redeemed himself when he took a feed from Adam Presizniuk just behind the left-side faceoff circle and beat Bobcats goaltender Bud Fisher blocker side.

One minute 23 seconds later, Union tied it.

Mike Schreiber took a blast from nearly the same spot, beating Fisher and tying the game at two just before the third reached its halfway point.

Coach Rand Pecknold immediately took a timeout to settle his troops down; but it wasn’t a pep talk. Pecknold was annoyed at his team.

“Give Union alot of credit,” Pecknold told WQUN after the game. “They outplayed us — we’re lucky to get a point. We didn’t do the little things well all night.”

But despite those shortcomings, Pecknold’s club took the lead with 8:10 remaining. Ben Nelson stole the puck in the neutral zone, and shot towards Milan. He took care of the original shot, but left the rebound staring at a wide open net. Bryan Leitch was at the right place at the right time, and shot into the wide-open net to give Quinnipiac the lead.

For the next 6 minutes, it looked like Quinnipiac was on its way to its second consecutive ECAC Hockey sweep.

But with 2:13 left, and the two teams preparing to take a faceoff in the Dutchmen offensive zone, Union coach Nate Leaman used his timeout, pulled his goaltender, and devised a faceoff play.

It worked.

Stephane Boileau, who won 13 of the 19 faceoffs he took, won this one back to Mike Schreiber at the point. His blast was stopped by Fisher, but the rebound popped high into the air. With multiple players swinging their sticks at the high-flying puck, Adam Presizniuk got his on rubber and with 2:07 left in the third period, the 1,837 at Messa Rink exploded in glee.

That’s where the score stood through a back and forth overtime. After an even affair for most of the first two periods, Union outshot Quinnipiac 20-8 in the third period and overtime stanza.

It’s a result that did not please Pecknold, especially after enduring the heckling of a Union skater as the teams were shaking hands.

“We got a three point weekend,” Pecknold said. “We should have taken four. There’s alot of hockey left, and we have to keep the hammer down with these guys. We’re not good enough to just play and get wins. We have too many guys in the locker room that think that.”

Regardless, the Bobcats do get a three point weekend, which helps them in their race for a first round bye. And much of the thanks for that can go to goaltender Bud Fisher.

The junior from Peterborough, Ontario was splendid in net, especially in the second period when he stopped numerous scoring chances for Union, including a breakaway by Union captain Josh Coyle.

What doesn’t help Quinnipiac is the results garnered by the other teams battling for that first round bye. Both Cornell and Princeton won on Saturday — Cornell at Colgate, 3-1 and Princeton at RPI in the Big Red Freakout! by a final of 4-0. Quinnipiac now stands in a 2-way tie for third place with Princeton. Clarkson leads the league with 21 points, Cornell is at 19, and the travel partners at 18.

So now, the Bobcats take the nearly three hour bus ride home hoping to return to the Capital District in late March for another chance at the ECAC Championship. In the meantime, their regular season continues Friday night against Yale in Hamden in front of an already sold-out TD Banknorth Sports Center, and on myTV9 in Hamden. Face-off is scheduled for shortly after 7pm.

NOTES: Leitch’s goal gives him 100 points for his Quinnipiac career. He becomes the 27th player in Quinnipiac history to achieve the feat. … Quinnipiac won 39 of the 64 face-offs taken during the game. … Greg Holt, who was a guest on WQUN during the 1st intermission, said he will practice for the first time in 10 days on Monday after suffering a head injury during the Bobcats first game against Niagara. He hopes to play next weekend against Yale and Brown. … Fisher had a season-high 36 saves. His career high is 43 saves, that came in a winning effort against Robert Morris in 2006.

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