By Jamie Palatini
(HAMDEN, Conn.) – Tonight’s game between the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team and Princeton was delayed nearly 20 minutes after technical difficulties prevented the main lights in the TD Banknorth Sports Center from turning on properly. Talk about foreshadowing.
Quinnipiac was shut out for the third consecutive game, this time at the hands of the Princeton Tigers by the score of 2-0. The loss drops the Bobcats to 2-4-1 overall, and 0-2-1 in ECAC Hockey. Princeton improves to 3-1-0 overall, and 2-1-0 in ECAC Hockey. The 2008-2009 Bobcats now own the school record for longest scoreless streak at 193:28 and counting, which extends all the way back to the third period of Quinnipiac’s 4-1 win against UConn on Nov. 1.
The Bobcats were blanked once again despite peppering Princeton goaltender Zane Kalemba with 37 shots and getting nine power play opportunities. After Quinnipiac failed to convert on its final power play chance late in the third period, senior forward Bryan Leitch looked up at the lights of the TD Banknorth Sports Center with his arms spread out in utter disbelief, exemplifying his teammates’ frustrations.
“Pucks aren’t going in the net right now. That’s the bottom line,” junior forward Brandon Wong said. “Right now we’re just in a hole and we’re going to have to find a way out.”
Regardless of his players’ disappointments, head coach Rand Pecknold knows there are some things that are simply out of his team’s control.
“Sometimes the puck just doesn’t go in,” Pecknold said. “It’s disappointing we haven’t found a way to score goals, but I think we actually played a really good game tonight.”
Quinnipiac came out firing early on by putting 14 shots on net in the first period, none of which found the back of the net. But early in the second period, Princeton changed the momentum of the game. Matt Godlewski’s shot from the blue line was deflected by Dan Bartlett past freshman goaltender Nick Pisellini to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. In the middle of the second stanza, the Bobcats seemed primed to break through on the power play, but couldn’t capitalize.
Bartlett then scored his second goal of the game with three minutes remaining in the second period. He came in against a Bobcat defender towards the near post and flipped a backhand shot inside the far post to give Princeton the two goal advantage.
The Bobcats tried to mount a comeback in the third, but shot themselves in the foot time and time again with penalties. Over the last three games, Quinnipiac has committed a mindboggling 41 penalties. Pecknold knows that these miscues break any kind of offensive flow for his team.
“I think one of the things we struggled with in the last three games is the amount of penalties we’re taking,” Pecknold said. “We’re expending a lot of energy on the kill and that’s probably the most energy we can expend in any situation…and that’s been hurting our five-on-five play and it’s been keeping our better players off the ice.”
Pecknold took that comment one step further, offering up a simple ultimatum to his players.
“It’s frustrating for me as a coach, so either these guys are going to have to start doing a better job on that, or we’re going have to start putting some kids in the stands.”
Generally, teams dread long road trips. Perhaps Quinnipiac’s upcoming six-game road trip is exactly what the team needs. The Bobcats will play the first of those games Friday evening when they travel to Schenectady, N.Y., to take on Union College. This will be the second game of the season between the two teams; Union erased a four goal deficit to come back and beat Quinnipiac 6-5 in overtime in what was the season opener for both teams. The broadcast can be heard on 1220 WQUN with Bill Schweizer providing the play-by-play. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Click here to view the box score from this game.