Quinnipiac Men’s Ice Hockey Handles Sacred Heart 9-2 in Season Opener


Photo: Liz Flynn

Ryan Flaherty

Highlights (Tom Krosnowski)

The Rebound (Steven Pappas and Patrick Flatley)

Story by Ryan Flaherty

The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team (1-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC Hockey) began its season with a dominant 9-2 victory over the Sacred Heart Pioneers (1-2-0, 1-1 Atlantic Hockey) on opening night at the People’s United Center.

In an eventful first game, that saw 13 different Quinnipiac players find the score sheet, there were certainly plenty of takeaways. Here are just three of those takeaways after the first 60 minutes of the Quinnipiac’s season.

No Rust after 289 days off

With such a long layoff and a plethora of new faces in the lineup you might expect a slow start in game number one, right? Wrong.

The Bobcats got out to a strong start on Monday night, outshooting the Pioneers 14-4 in the first period and they never looked back. They added not one, not two, not three, but FIVE goals in the second period and the onslaught was on.

For a team that’s often struggled establishing their game early on, it was clear the Bobcats were ready to go as soon as the puck dropped. With such a young group on defense, having a strong presence on offense is going to be important for this Bobcats team moving forward.

If the Bobcats can continue to play a full 60 minutes and challenge teams on offense they’re going to be very hard to beat.

Special Teams

It’s not often that a team gets to evaluate all of its special teams’ units in just the first 60 minutes of the season, but there was a lot to unpack on Monday night.

Starting with the powerplay, the big takeaway is the potential of the first unit to mimic what we saw just a few years ago with the unit led by former Bobcats captain Chase Priskie. Rand Pecknold stuck with the four forwards and one defenseman look we’ve come accustomed to seeing and it continued to work.

The Bobcats top unit of Odeen Tufto, Ethan DeJong, Ty Smilanic, Wyatt Bongiovanni, and Peter DiLiberatore had an early chance in the first period and although it was killed off by the Pioneers, the Bobcats moved the puck with clear purpose which resulted in a few quality scoring chances.

They broke through on their second chance of the evening as DiLiberatore found a wide-open Bongiovanni at the faceoff dot who rifled it home to start the scoring.

Even the second unit got in on the action scoring twice in the third period. Defensemen Nick Bochen and Marcus Chorney scored their first career NCAA goals on the powerplay with two rockets from the left point.

Quinnipiac allowed virtually no chances through the majority of the five-minutes before drawing two penalties of their own, leading to the Bongiovanni’s 4-on-3 goal. The Bobcats are at their best when playing a strong special teams’ game and they did so tonight.

Depth Scoring

Heading into the season, there has been plenty of talk about the top 6 forwards and their scoring prowess, but this game was truly a team effort.

Nine different players scored goals, 13 different players had points, and eight different players had multi point games. Not to mention that three Bobcats scored their first career goals (Matthew Fawcett, Bochen, and Chorney).

It goes without saying that a one-dimensional team is easy to defend against, so the Bobcats ability to maintain this balanced scoring is going to be crucial to their success, especially in a year in which they’ll be playing the vast majority of their games against just three other ECAC Hockey opponents who are going to get to know each other very well.

Any sort of championship run is going to have to rely on more than just the top line of Tufto, Bongiovanni, and Smilanic playing at their best.

These two teams will do it all again tomorrow night with puck drop set for 7 p.m. at the People’s United Center.