By Jamie Palatini
(HAMDEN, Conn.) – Maybe all they needed was a change of scenery.
After going over 193 minutes without scoring a goal at the TD Banknorth Sports Center in Hamden, it only took Quinnipiac’s men’s ice hockey team just 1:15 to score on Union goaltender Corey Milan in Schenectady, N.Y. The Bobcats would go on to add five more goals, including a hat trick from senior forward Bryan Leitch, en route to a 6-3 win against the Union Dutchmen on Friday night. With the win, Quinnipiac improves to 3-4-1 overall, and 1-2-1 in ECAC Hockey. The loss drops Union to 4-3-1, and 1-2-0 in ECAC Hockey. Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold was pleased with his team’s effort and understood how important this game was for the Bobcats.
“I thought we played well against Colgate and Princeton,” Pecknold said, referring to the Bobcats’ last two games in which they didn’t score. “But tonight our guys bought in. We played well and executed well. It’s important that we got a win here tonight, because if we didn’t we were in a lot of trouble. Hopefully we’ll build off of this tomorrow night.”
Leitch’s goal at the 1:15 minute mark was his first of the season. Junior forward Eric Lampe took a one-time shot from the left faceoff circle which was saved by Milan, but deflected right to Leitch who put home the rebound to give Quinnipiac the 1-0 lead.
The Bobcats increased the lead to 2-0 six minutes later on the power play. The play started with Leitch, who moved the puck to sophomore defenseman Zach Hansen by the blue line of the Union zone. Hansen slid the puck across to senior defenseman Matt Sorteberg, who one-timed a shot into the top right corner of the net for his first goal of the season to give Quinnipiac a two goal advantage. Union’s Matt Cook pulled the Dutchmen within one after he scored on freshman goaltender Nick Pisellini late in the first period to make it 2-1.
In the second period, Quinnipiac outscored Union by that same margin. Hansen added his first goal of the season, which came on the power play to make it a 3-1 Quinnipiac lead. Union’s Jason Walter scored at the 7:56 mark of the period to cut into the deficit, but Leitch added his second goal of the game five minutes later, also on the power play, to keep it a two-goal Quinnipiac lead at 4-2.
With just five minutes remaining in the game, Leitch capped off his five point night with his third goal of the game for his first career hat trick.
“Bryan worked a little bit harder tonight than he has been,” volunteer assistant coach Graham Johnson said. “When he had the opportunities, he buried them. I think overall, he worked a little harder and showed that little extra bit of effort.”
Union’s Lane Caffaro added a goal just 36 seconds later to make the score 5-3, but Sorteberg squashed any hopes of a Union comeback when he scored an empty netter with just over one minute remaining. It was the first multi-goal game of Sorteberg’s career. But for the Bobcats’, Friday night’s game represented a huge monkey being lifted off their backs.
“We knew the goals were going to come at some point, we have a lot of skill up front,” Johnson said. “We had chances in those three home games, but tonight we came out tonight and put a few in, which was a big help for us.”
Quinnipiac will look to build off this win tomorrow night when they continue their road trip in the Capital Region, this time in Troy N.Y., against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. That game will be broadcast on 1220 WQUN, with the puck set to drop at 7 p.m.
Click here to view the box score from this game.