NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — The third time proved to be the charm as Quinnipiac avoided a three-game regular-season sweep by defeating Iona 5-1 on Friday night. Quinnipiac’s victory was its third in a row and ended Iona’s 10-0-1 streak at home.
Braves coach Rand Pecknold said, “I just thought tonight we finished on our chances. In the second game we outshot them 39-25 and [Scott] Galenza was just awesome. We had a lot of scoring chances and couldn’t finish. Tonight, we had scoring chances and we finished.”
One of those players finishing was senior Ryan Olson, who scored two goals, including the 100th point of his career. Linemate and fellow senior Brian Herbert tallied his 100th point in Quinnipiac’s 5-0 victory over UConn.
Olson echoed his coach’s sentiments. “The first game, Iona did take it to us and they deserved to win. The second game could have gone either way. Their goalie played well last time. Tonight, the goalie didn’t stand on his head. I think that was the big difference. We have been able to play with Iona, but they beat us on the scoreboard.”
Quinnipiac jumped out to an early lead at 4:33 of the first period. Tyler Dufour converted on a 3-on-2 rush as he took Chris White’s feed in the slot and snapped the puck over Galenza’s glove for the 1-0 lead.
Quinnipiac extended the lead with a goal late in the period on the power play. Off a faceoff to the left of Galenza, Herbert won the draw back to the left point to Wade Winkler. The sophomore blueliner passed cross-ice to Olson, who walked into the right circle and wristed the puck home for his 100th point at 19:15.
Olson was quick to give credit to his linemates. “The line I am on right now is really clicking. Herbert is doing well and [Matt] Craig is doing well a freshman.” The trio has combined for 15 goals and 16 assists this season.
Olson’s goal also shows that practice does make perfect. “The goal itself was a set play we had off the power play. We tried it in practice yesterday and it worked.”
On his 100th point, Olson said, “To me, it is an accomplishment. 100 points is a milestone that everyone shoots for. I am happy that I got it.”
Pecknold had nothing but praise for his captain. “Ryan’s played great. When he gets chances, he finishes them. He had a couple of great chances and those are goal scorer’s goals. He’s one of our leaders along with Neil Breen and Todd Bennett.”
The first period was a microcosm of the Gaels’ troubles this season — and coach Frank Bretti is well aware of his team’s slow starts.
“That was mostly what I talked about in the post-game,” Bretti said. “I think it is going to come down to paying more attention to detail. This is at least the third or fourth game that we felt we haven’t come out very strong in the first period.”
Iona’s slow start spelled the beginning of a long night. “With the these type of teams going at it, if you can get a two-goal lead, I think you are going to be feeling pretty good about things. They just played with a lot of momentum after that,” Bretti said.
Despite the slow start, business picked up fast for Iona as the Gaels cut the lead in half less than two minutes into the second period as Tim Krueckl took a Ryan Carter feed and used his speed and muscle to storm down the right side (his off-wing) and one-hand the puck past goaltender Jamie Holden just before he crashed into the net.
The Gaels’ good times did not last long as Quinnipiac answered with two goals in 69 seconds. Olson proved to be the thorn in Iona’s side again as blocked a Paul Fisher shot at the point on the defensive end and then roofed a shot over Galenza’s glove for his second goal of the game at 4:20. A little more than a minute later, with Iona back on their heels, White walked out from behind the net and made the score 4-1.
Matt Froehlich put the final nail in Iona’s coffin with a goal at 15:19 of the third period as he converted a pass from Neil Breen.
While Iona managed to gain the better of the play after the fourth goal, it was goaltender Jamie Holden’s turn to step to the forefront. The freshman from Telkwa, British Columbia kept the Gaels at bay for the remainder of the game and drew praise from Pecknold, Olson and Bretti.
“He’s a great goaltender. We are extremely fortunate to have two great goaltenders. Jamie has been fantastic. Justin [Eddy] has struggled a little bit, but he’s also an outstanding goaltender and we have confidence in him two,” Pecknold said.
Olson took Pecknold’s comments one step further. “Jamie Holden has been great since he’s come in here. Right now I can’t take anything away from Eddy. It is a bonus for our team when we have goalies that can come in, and we have confidence in both of them. I feel that both of them are (among the) top three in the league.”
Bretti summed up the Iona point of view when he said, “Their goaltender was outstanding tonight and that is just the way it goes.”
Despite Holden’s heroics in goal, Iona had its chances in the form of five scoreless power-play opportunities. Bretti felt his team was close to breaking out of its man-advantage slump.
“On our first couple of power plays I thought we looked very good. It was just one of those situations where we were maybe one little play — one little pass — away from finishing,” he said.
Quinnipiac (6-3-0, 4-3-0 MAAC) returns to action Sunday afternoon, visiting Orono to play Maine at 4 p.m. The Braves will be looking to avenge a 7-4 loss to Maine on December 12, 1999. The Braves held a 4-3 lead with 10 minutes to go in that game.
Iona (5-3-1, 5-2-1) hits the road on Saturday, Nov. 24, when the Gaels travel to Troy, N.Y. to visit RPI at 7 p.m.