By Jamie Palatini
HAMDEN – Last weekend, the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team shocked the nation with two convincing road victories against then 17th ranked Ohio State University.
This weekend, the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team shocked the home crowd with their lackluster, uninspired performance.
Scott Zurevinski’s goal 29 seconds into overtime saved the Bobcats from any further embarrassment, giving Quinnipiac the 3-2 win over the Bentley Falcons in Quinnipiac’s home opener at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden. Quinnipiac improves to 3-0-0 with the win, while Bentley drops to 0-2-0. Quinnipiac came into the game as the clear favorite, but played as if it were the underdog.
“I thought our energy was terrible tonight, and I thought Bentley was the better team tonight,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “We got outworked in all three zones all night…we stole a win tonight.”
Things started out well enough for the Bobcats, who got the scoring started early in the first period. Three minutes into play, freshman Reese Rolheiser’s shot from the right point deflected off of a Bentley stick and snuck over the left shoulder of Bentley goaltender Kyle Rank. It was the Edmonton, Alberta native’s first career goal and it gave the home team the early 1-0 advantage.
Bentley was able to counter just four minutes and 30 seconds later. Following a faceoff in the Quinnipiac zone, the Falcons peppered Quinnipiac goaltender Mathieu Cadieux with shots until a rebound came to forward Jamie Nudy. Cadieux was off to the far side of the crease after making a few saves, and Nudy put the rebound into the relatively open net to even the score at one.
Cadieux finished with 25 saves in his first career start to earn the victory. The freshman allowed two goals, but made some key saves down the stretch in order to keep the Bobcats in the game.
“He played well,” Pecknold said. “We didn’t play well in front of him, that’s for sure. Our freshmen D were playing like freshmen D, and our vets weren’t really good either. He did a nice job, he battled for us today and that’s a good win.”
Brandon Wong gave the Bobcats a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission. Freshman D’Arcy Oakes put a shot on net which was initially saved by Rank, but Wong kept jamming away at the loose puck in the crease before sliding it past the Falcons’ goaltender to put Quinnipiac up by one.
Early on in the second period, the Falcons drew even again. After a turnover along the boards in the Bobcats’ zone, Bentley had a two-on-one and took advantage. Dan Koudys collected the puck and slipped a pass to Kane Osmars, who slid the puck to right of Cadieux to tie the game at two.
The score remained that way through the rest of the second period and the third period before Zurevinski’s OT game-winner. Quinnipiac outshot Bentley 16-9 in the final stanza, but it was the Falcons who controlled the play for the most part. The Bobcats struggled bringing the puck out of their own zone all game long, and had numerous turnovers in the neutral zone. Pecknold attributed the team’s struggles to his young players showing their youth.
“You’ve got a ton of freshmen here and they were struggling,” Pecknold said. “Sloppy…we have a certain breakout to work, and they weren’t working it. It all comes from poor mental preparation. We weren’t ready to play the game, and we were in scramble mode all night”
The Bobcats will look to bounce back this upcoming weekend when they head to Moon Township, Penn. to take on Robert Morris for a two-game series. The first game of that series is scheduled for 7 PM on Friday night, with Bill Schweizer and Ken Sweeten providing the call on 1220 WQUN-AM and wqun.com.