Quinnipiac beats Arizona State 2-1 in opening round of NCAA playoffs

MJ Baird


Postgame Analysis:

Article By: Kyle Levasseur

ALLENTOWN, PENN – One win separates the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team from the Frozen Four. This opportunity comes after a 2-1 win over Arizona State, Saturday night at the PPL Center.

Momentum played a huge role from the opening puck drop to the final horn. The Sun Devils tried to scrape the rust off their sticks as they had not played a game in four weeks. The Bobcats made it a point to turn the Sun Devils’ rust into their momentum.

“They’re not going to have their game legs right away, and that’s something we have to recognize” Quinnipiac leading point scorer Odeen Tufto said on Tuesday before the game. “That first five minutes is going to be huge. If we don’t score, they’ll get the momentum to start.”

The Bobcats stayed true to Tufto’s words as sophomore Joe O’Connor scored 3:54 into the first period. Freshman William Fallstrom added to Quinnipiac’s lead in the second period, taking a 2-0 lead into the final 20 minutes. Outshooting Arizona State 29-10 after 40 minutes, Quinnipiac had a firm grip on the game.

Quinnipiac’s dominance in the first two periods did not continue in the third. Sun Devils’ captain Brinson Pasichnuk cut Quinnipiac’s lead to just 2-1 with 8:18 left in regulation.

A familiar tune began to play when the goal horn sounded for Arizona State. Two weeks after blowing two third period leads to Brown, and having blown a third period lead to Colgate in January, Quinnipiac was in a similar situation.

Just 30 seconds after Pasichnuk’s goal, ASU leading goal scorer Johnny Walker beat the glove of QU goalie Andrew Shortridge, but hit the crossbar to keep the game at 2-1.

The Bobcats were on the ropes and trying to weather the storm when they caught a huge break with 3:44 left. Arizona State’s Jarrod Gourley slammed Quinnipiac’s Nick Jermain into the boards and was ejected; a major penalty for hitting from behind. Quinnipiac now had an extra skater for the rest of the game.

“ASU was coming really hard, but we were lucky that we got a five-minute major,” Fallstrom said.

With just over a minute left in regulation, ASU head coach Greg Powers pulled his goalie to put the game at even strength. The Sun Devils fought to the fleeting end but the Bobcats blocked shots at timely moments to hold on and advance.

It does not get easier for the Bobcats. Quinnipiac faces the reigning national champions and No. 1 seed in the Allentown regional, Minnesota Duluth, Sunday at 6:30 p.m. for a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

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