SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Quinnipiac, welcome to the club.
The MAAC team many picked to get the first win over a team from one of the “Big Four” conferences became the second to do so on Sunday, coming from behind to defeat Union, 3-2.
The Braves joined Sacred Heart as the second MAAC team to defeat a “Big Four” team.
The Braves also became the first MAAC team to garnish more than two points against a “Big Four” club with the win. With a tie against St. Lawrence earlier in the season, the Braves now have three points against the ECAC.
“We’re happy,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “We came out this weekend and we played two competitive games. Last night I thought we didn’t get the bounces and tonight we got fortunate to have the puck bounce our way a couple of times and we played hard the whole game. We played hard the whole weekend and everyone says we have something to prove and we came out and we proved something.”
The Braves had to prove things early as they were outshot by Union 10-1 in the first five minutes of the game.
The Dutchmen benefited from an early five-on-three opportunity that helped contribute to the shot total and to the early lead. With only two seconds left on the two-man advantage, the Dutchmen worked the puck to Kris Goodjohn. Goodjohn had an open net and tapped it home for the 1-0 lead.
The Braves settled down and tied it on their own power play attempt later in the period. Chris Cerrella blasted one that eluded Dutchmen goaltender Mark Wise, who was starting his first game of the season, to tie it at one.
The Dutchmen would regain the lead later in the period as Jeff Wilson stole the puck from Anthony DiPalma as he was about to shoot the puck from the blue line. Wilson, racing down the right wing, took his shot and the rebound was pounded home between Justin Eddy’s legs by Jeff Hutchins.
“I thought other than the five-on-three they didn’t have a lot of chances,” Pecknold said. “All the shots were from the perimeter and Justin’s a good goaltender. We came on strong and the shots were pretty equal at the end of the first and we took it to them for most of the game.”
The beginning of the second period saw the Braves tie the game at 2. At the end of a double minor to Charles Simard, Matt Erhart’s point shot was deflected by Brian Herbert, who in turn had his deflection deflected by Shawn Mansoff into the net.
With 1:08 to go in the second period the Braves took the lead. Chad Poliquin took an errant Dutchman pass at his own blue line and started the other way with a defenseman all over him. Poliquin managed to get his stick free and flick the puck over to Herbert. Herbert had lost his coverage and tapped it past Wise for the 3-2 lead.
“You can’t fault him on two power-play goals,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said on Wise’s play. “And in the last minute we give up a two-on-one, you can’t fault him for that. Obviously the rest of the players didn’t do their jobs.”
The Dutchmen scratched and clawed to try to get the tying goal in the third period and were stoned when given a power play with 6:45 left in the third.
Later on in the final minute with Wise pulled, Randy Dagenais clanged a wrist shot from the blue line off the post, but the puck sailed over and wide of the net and the Braves held on for the 3-2 victory.
“We haven’t played 60 minutes now for the last couple of games and it was going to sting us at some point and tonight it did,” Sneddon said. “Plain and simple, when we play hard we’re a pretty good hockey club, when we sit back on our heels, and we don’t take the body and do the little things well, we’re going to struggle, no questions about it.”
The game came down to Eddy’s 21 saves in the third period, special teams and misplays.
“There’s no excuse for some of the plays we made tonight,” Sneddon said. “The penalty kill was horrible, the power play didn’t produce like we needed at the end and the bottom line is we didn’t execute like we wanted to.
“We’re showing flashes right now. Early on we were showing 60 minutes, right now we’re showing flashes and that’s not acceptable.”
The Dutchmen (6-2-2, 3-0-1 ECAC) had their six-game unbeaten streak come to an end and will travel to take on Princeton and Yale in ECAC action next weekend. Sneddon certainly will take the week to get his team ready.
“Where we get off thinking we can play 30 minutes of hockey against anyone is beyond me,” he said. “But believe me, I’ll get it out of them, don’t worry about that. We may not win every game coming up, but we’ll work harder.”
The Braves (10-3-2, 7-1-1 MAAC) can chalk up a win against a “Big Four” opponent in their seventh attempt. The Braves will take on the WCHA for the first time next weekend, traveling to Minnesota.
“I never felt like we had a monkey on our back to be honest with you,” Pecknold said about getting that first win over the “Big Four”. “I felt that we were just as good as a lot of these teams in the ECAC and if we were given the opportunity, we weren’t going to win all of them, but we’re going to win some of them. We proved that when we tied St. Lawrence and played good against Clarkson and this weekend.”