By Jamie Palatini
(HAMDEN, Conn.) – After 20 minutes of play, Rand Pecknold’s Bobcats had a commanding 4-0 lead. Brandon Wong had already netted a natural hat trick, and it looked like Quinnipiac was well on its way to a season-opening win after the first period.
The next two periods were vastly different.
Union College (1-0-0, 0-0-0) scored five unanswered goals, followed by Stephane Boileau’s overtime game-winner, to complete a 6-5 comeback win over Quinnipiac (0-1-0, 0-0-0) in the first round of the Mutual of Omaha Stampede.
Quinnipiac jumped out of the gates early on the power play. With the 4-on-3 advantage, Wong’s one-timer off a pass from Bryan Leitch beat Union goaltender Corey Milan to give the his team a 1-0 lead just 4:18 into the game.
The Bobcats got their second goal from an unlikely source. Just two minutes after Wong’s goal, senior defenseman Andrew Meyer put a shot five-hole past Milan. It was Meyer’s fourth career goal, and it gave Quinnipiac a two goal lead.
Wong added another power play goal, as well as an even-strength goal with 28.5 seconds to go in the first, and the Bobcats were up 4-0 after the first period. That’s when things took a turn for the worse for Quinnipiac.
Whatever Union head coach Nate Leaman said to his team during the first intermission, it worked. Just 11 seconds into the second period, Jason Walters won the opening face-off and moved in past the defense. His shot beat Bobcats’ goaltender Bud Fisher, and the Dutchmen were trailing 4-1.
Halfway through the second period, Union made it a two goal game. John Simpson stole a pass, then moved in all alone on Fisher and put a backhander over his left shoulder to reduce the deficit to two.
A little over a minute later, the Dutchmen cut into the lead once again. Stephane Boileau, who would later score the game-winning goal, took a pass from Brian Yanovitch and one-timed it past Fisher to bring Union within a goal at 4-3.
Union then completely eliminated the deficit at the 17:26 mark of the second period. Adam Presizniuk scored on the power play, and the Bobcats had seen their four goal lead disappear. The score remained at 4-4 until intermission and through the first half of the third period. With 7:16 remaining in regulation, John Simpson found the rebound from a Stephane Boileau shot, put it past Fisher, and Union took the 5-4 lead.
But Quinnipiac still had some fight left. Jean-Marc Beaudoin took a pass from freshman forward Spencer Heichman, and beat Milan to tie the score 5-5 with just four minutes to go.
The score remained even until overtime, when Union finished their comeback. Mark Nelson’s slashing penalty gave the Dutchmen a power play, and they took advantage of it. After making many saves in a row, Fisher let a rebound get away from him. Boileau took the rebound, buried it in the top left corner, and the Dutchmen came away with an improbable 6-5 overtime victory.
Even though Quinnipiac lead 4-0 after the first frame, they were outshot in the first period 17-7. That trend continued throughout, and by game’s end Union had exceedingly outshot the Bobcats 42-20. Milan got the win in goal for Union, despite allowing five goals on 20 shots.
Last season, inconsistency was a major issue for the Bobcats. After blowing a four-goal lead in their first game, they’ve picked up right where they left off. They’ll have the opportunity to get their first win of the season Saturday night against American International College in the consolation game of the Mutual of Omaha Stampede.
NOTES: Freshmen Scott Zurevinski and Spencer Heichman played on the top two lines for Quinnipiac, and notched their first collegiate points with one assist each…Bud Fisher made 36 saves in the loss…the Bobcats are 0-4-9 in their last thirteen regular season games which have reached overtime…their last regular season overtime win came against Brown in 2006.