By Jamie Palatini
Quinnipiac’s men’s ice hockey team showed strokes of brilliance in the second period of Friday night’s game against Robert Morris. However, their play in the first and third periods may be all head coach Rand Pecknold noticed.
The Bobcats tallied four goals in the second stanza en route to a 5-4 victory over the Robert Morris Colonials Friday night at the TD Banknorth Sports Center in Hamden. The win improves Quinnipiac’s overall record to 13-8-3. With the loss, RMU drops to 4-12-4.
Despite the win, Pecknold found reasons for concern. Quinnipiac trailed 1-0 after the first, and gave up goals after notching 2-1, 3-2, and 5-3 leads which allowed the Colonials to keep the game close.
“I thought we gutted out a win tonight,” Pecknold said. “We didn’t play very well, and I thought we were very flat in the first.”
Robert Morris jumped out into the lead at the 15:59 mark of the first period. Sophomore Nathan Longpre’s shot on Quinnipiac goaltender Dan Clarke from the slot was initially stopped, but trickled through his legs to give the Colonials the 1-0 advantage.
After the first 20 minutes in which Quinnipiac was outplayed, outhustled and outhit, the Bobcats woke up and erupted in the second. Just 1:26 into the period, Jean-Marc Beaudoin entered the RMU zone and found linemate Brandon Wong streaking towards the net. Wong spun at the right faceoff circle and made a backhand pass to freshman forward Yuri Bouharevich, whose shot whizzed past the right arm of Colonials goaltender Brooks Ostergard to tie the game at one.
Just two minutes later, the Bobcats took the lead. Quinnipiac senior forward and Division I assists leader Bryan Leitch handled the puck behind the RMU net. He slid to his right and found junior forward Eric Lampe in the slot, whose one-timer beat Ostergard to give Quinnipiac the 2-1 lead. But RMU came right back and knotted the score just three minutes later. Jake Obermeyer scored his first goal of the season at the 13:07 mark, and the Colonials had seized the momentum, knotting the score at two.
But Quinnipiac had an answer. After a RMU penalty, senior forward David Marshall won a faceoff in the Colonials’ zone. The puck came back to Leitch, whose shot was blocked in front, but picked up by Lampe who put it home for his second goal of the game. It was the ninth goal of the season for Lampe, and it gave Quinnipiac a 3-2 lead.
Overall on the night, the line of Leitch, Marshall and Lampe combined for three goals and five assists. Despite his offensive successes tonight, Lampe was quick to credit his linemates.
“It’s great. It’s about hard work and good passes,” Lampe said. “I just go in and do the dirty work for them, and what happens happens.”
After the Bobcats seized the lead, RMU came right back and scored on the power play. Chris Kushnierek’s shot got by Clarke, and the Colonials had tied the score once again.
A great individual effort from Marshall put Quinnipiac back out in front just 15 seconds later. Marshall was forechecking behind the RMU net, and was stole the puck from a Colonials’ defender. His centering pass found a streaking Greg Holt who put a one-timer from the right faceoff circle past Ostergard to give Quinnipiac a 4-3 advantage.
With eight minutes remaining in the game, that became a two-goal advantage. On a 5-on-3 power play, Marshall unleashed a one-timer from the left faceoff circle that found the top left corner of the net which made the score 5-3. Robert Morris scored less than two minutes later on a quick shot in the slot from Denny Urban to bring the Colonials within a goal. However, Robert Morris couldn’t convert on chances late, and Quinnipiac escaped with the 5-4 victory.
Both Marshall and Pecknold made it clear that despite this win, the Bobcats need to show up for a full 60 minutes if they want to make a serious push towards an ECAC crown.
“I don’t think this is a good feeling,” Marshall said. “We didn’t play very well, and it’s the second weekend in a row. We need to take it upon ourselves to play a little better at home.”
“We really struggled…it’s disappointing because we have a lot of juniors and seniors on this team, and it’s hit or miss with their intensity every night,” Pecknold said.
Last weekend, Quinnipiac beat Niagara 6-4 in the first game of a two-game set before a bad 5-1 loss the following evening. The Bobcats will look to avoid that same fate in as many weekends tomorrow evening when they host this same RMU team at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on the WQAQ sports stream with Justin Cohen and Tyler Chaput calling all the action. The broadcast is slated to begin at 6:50 p.m.
NOTES – Leitch’s two assists increased his season total to 30, which leads all of Division I hockey. … Marshall has now tallied a point in 16 consecutive games, a Quinnipiac Division I record. … Quinnipiac is the first team this season to have two 30-point scorers (Leitch and Marshall). … Wong left Friday’s game with a leg injury, his status is unknown for Saturday’s game.