Quinnipiac Ties Season Opener 1-1 against “new rival” Boston College

Video by: Kyle Levasseur

Article by: MJ Baird

CHESTNUT HILL, MA – It is rare that two perennial powerhouses in college hockey have a limited track record. Often times the best of the best find themselves matched up time and time again.

However that wasn’t the case for the Quinnipiac Bobcats and the Boston College Eagles. In fact, Friday night’s contest at Conte Forum was only the third meeting all time between the two clubs.

After 65 minutes of action neither team gained or lost any ground, as the Bobcats and the Eagles skated to a 1-1 tie.

“I thought it was a great college hockey game for October 6th,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I thought both goalies were excellent, probably the best two players on the ice. I like the way we played tonight.”

Quinnipiac entered the game owning a 2-0-0 record against Boston College, with its previous wins coming in the 2016 Frozen Four semifinal and the 2017 Three River’s Classic.

Yearly contenders in their respective conferences, the Bobcats and the Eagles may not have much familiarity, but the budding foes are likely to see a lot more of each other in the future.

Boston College will travel to Hamden next season for a non-conference matchup, but Eagles head coach Jerry York doesn’t see that as the end of the road for these two teams.

“I think Quinnipiac is going to be more of a staple in our schedule from now on,” York said. “I envision that as one of our non-conference rivalry type games. Which is pretty phenomenal. (Quinnipiac) has quickly become a real player on the national scene. We are excited about the rivalry.”

Friday’s game was the first regular season action of the year for both sides. It took over 35 minutes of back and forth action to settle the nerves, get back into the heat of game action and break the scoreless tie.

“Tonight’s game was a good battle of goaltenders,” York said.

The best scoring chance of the first period came via a penalty shot for the Eagles. Quinnipiac’s Brandon Fortunato received a delay of game penalty for covering the puck in the crease, and Boston College turned to David Cotton.

Cotton tried a deke on Quinnipiac’s Andrew Shortridge, but the sophomore goaltender trapped the puck with his left pad keeping the zeroes on the scoreboard.

In the second frame the Bobcats stuck first, silencing the home crowd.

Amid a two-on-one, Alex Whelan received a pass from freshman Odeen Tufto and sped into the offensive zone. Whelan had the option to pass to a crashing Brogan Rafferty or fire on net, and the sophomore winger chose the latter.

Whelan’s shot rung iron and dropped into the net, giving the Bobcats a 1-0 lead. The goal tallied Whelan’s first point of the year, and Tufto’s assist was his first at the collegiate level.

Whelan’s head coach had nothing but praise for him after his performance.

“He has really kind of taken off for us,” Pecknold said. “He struggled a lot early last year with his practice work ethic. He just didn’t understand how hard you needed to work. Once he bought into that his game took off, and he got in the lineup. He keeps getting better and better and now he is probably one of our hardest working kids in practice everyday. He hunted a lot of pucks, won a lot of battles and he is a really good player for us.”

Just a season ago, Quinnipiac scored first in 26 of its games. Of those 26, the Bobcats won 20 of them. If that success carried over to this year, there was a good chance the Bobcats could have held on to win their first game of the year.

However York and his Eagles had other thoughts.

Quinnipiac took a penalty with under five to go in regulation for too many players on the ice. The call was a result of a bad change for the Bobcats.

“Did we make some mistakes? Yes. We had some bad changes and it cost us a win there at the end but it was an honest mistake early in the season,” Pecknold said.

York called his timeout and drew up a play that was executed to perfection in the ensuing play.

Junior Casey Fitzgerald corralled the faceoff win and patiently waited for his forwards to assume position. The Eagles captain then sent the puck cross-ice on the back door to freshman Jake Tortora, who picked no better time to net his first collegiate goal.

With an open net, Tortora calmly shot the puck past Shortridge tying the score at one.

“(Tortora) really has shown very well during our preseason practices and our exhibition game last week,” York said. “I think he has qualities that will show as the season goes on. His skating, his good hockey sense, and he’s a goal scorer. He wants to score goals. It’s one of our real good additions to our team.”

The best chance through the remainder of the game and overtime came off the stick of Quinnipiac’s Nick Jermain, as he rang a shot off the post just minutes after the Eagles’ goal.

The goaltenders for each side were the reason for the tight matchup, but Quinnipiac’s platoon of Shortridge and freshman Keith Petruzzelli made it more than a simple decision for Pecknold in terms of who to put in between the pipes.

“We are fortunate to be blessed with two high end goaltenders so we chose one to play tonight,” Pecknold said.

Although the Bobcats head coach gave no indication of who would start in net in their next game on Sunday, history often reapeats itself.

Last year when the Bobcats had two players jousting for the starting nod, their first regular season weekend of the year featured the same goaltender in both games.

It will be confirmed Sunday when line charts are released who will be between the pipes for the Bobcats, but until then it’s only speculation.

Puck drop against Boston University is set for 2pm on Sunday in Hamden.

 

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