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Bobcats tie Crimson despite late goal against

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: M.J. Baird

CAMBRIDGE, MA – A short turnaround from a demoralizing loss and a road contest with a top three team in the conference sounds like a recipe for potential disaster.

The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team needed a change of fate and a different result, as it took on Harvard Saturday afternoon.

After a bad bounce goal in the final ten seconds of the game a night prior at the hands of Dartmouth, Quinnipiac partially mended its woes, tying Harvard 2-2 at the Bright-Landry hockey center.

Quinnipiac led until late in the third period, when Harvard tied the game at two. It was the second time in two games that the Bobcats allowed a goal late in the final frame, but this time around Quinnipiac still salvaged a point.

With 3:27 left in the game and trailing by one, Harvard looked to its most reliable offensive weapon for support. Ryan Donato picked up a loose puck in front of Quinnipiac goaltender Keith Petruzzelli, and fired a shot into the back of the net to knot the score.

Donato again had a chance with the game on his stick as the clock in overtime wound down, but Petruzzelli and the Quinnipiac defense held strong to settle for a tie.

The coach’s son is the best player on the Harvard roster, and the Boston Bruin’s draft pick has a real chance of playing in the NHL in just a few months.

“I think Ryan Donato is one of the best, if not the best, players in college hockey right now,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said.

Coming into the game, the Bobcats were losers of three of their previous four conference games. Different scenery can sometimes make all the difference, and Saturday the Bobcats featured a different lineup than usual.

Pecknold dressed only ten forwards. And two Bobcats, TJ Brown and Joe O’Connor, took the ice for their collegiate hockey debut.

Yet the biggest surprise in the Bobcats lineup was in goal, as Keith Petruzzelli got his first start in goal since the end of November.

“I thought Keith was really good today. We needed that,” Pecknold said. “He hadn’t played in a while, but has looked really good in practice and he competed and battled.”

Despite a tie, Quinnipiac can view this game as a step in the right direction. Even the aspects of the game Quinnipiac has struggled with all season began to work the knots out.

The Bobcats have struggled with buy-in to the “Quinnipiac identity” much of this season. On Saturday afternoon, Pecknold was happy with his team’s effort and felt there were a lot of good takeaways moving forward.

“I thought we played really well tonight. It wasn’t perfect, but I loved our battle level and I loved our compete,” Pecknold said. “There was just a lot of really good things today that we can take out of this, and we just need to keep building to get better as a hockey team.”

The Quinnipiac power play came into the game operating at a dismal 10.71%, good for third worst in all of college hockey.

“We’ve had so many good looks, but the puck just isn’t going in the net on the power play,” Pecknold said. “It happens sometimes, and it’s frustrating. I think it is even happening 5-on-5 a little bit too. We generate a ton of offense and we just haven’t been finishing at the rates we’ve done in past years.”

However the Bobcats were able to flip their luck on the man advantage, converting on two of their three opportunities.

The first power play goal gave the Bobcats a 1-0 lead, as Bo Pieper picked up a rebound on a Chase Priskie shot from the point, and tucked it past the outstretched pad of Merrick Madsen.

The second man advantage goal came in the middle frame, and again gave the Bobcats a lead. Chase Priskie lined up a one-timer from the face off dot to the right of Madsen and fired his shot near side over the blocker of the Crimson goaltender.

If the Bobcats can keep up their power play success, as well as continue their work on the penalty kill, special teams could be the spark plug Quinnipiac needs to find stride this second half of the season.

Newly named Quinnipiac assistant captain Scott Davidson put this weekend simply.

“I think we are playing a lot better in 2018 than we were in 2017. We are moving in the right direction,” Davidson said. “Tough loss against Dartmouth, we just had a tough first period. Now we just tied a pretty good Harvard team. A couple steps back this weekend maybe, but overall we are moving upwards for sure.”

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