HAMDEN, Conn. — It was a game of firsts at the Northford Ice Pavilion Friday night. For Quinnipiac, it was its first home game as the Bobcats. Bentley started its season with a new face behind the bench — Bentley hockey alumnus Ryan Soderquist.
Bentley came in as an underdog in this Quinnipiac Cup tournament game finishing at the opposite end of the MAAC standings last year, but kept the game close for 60 minutes before falling to the Bobcats 3-1.
Soderquist was pleased that his team competed as well as it did and tallied 32 shots against the MAAC conference champions of last season.
“For a young squad to get 30-plus shots on Quinnipiac in the first game of the season was pretty good for us,” said Soderquist. “I thought our goaltending played solid and I think we were pretty comfortable all around.”
The first period saw a good amount of sloppy play as both teams seemed to be playing overly cautious hockey. There was no scoring in the first period despite two power plays for each team. Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold was not happy with his team’s first 20 minutes.
“I thought our first period was terrible,” said Pecknold. “We were not ready to play tonight when this game started but I thought we picked it up in the second and third.”
The Bobcats made it 1-0 early in the second period as Ryan Morton fed Matt Craig in the slot and he beat Falcons goaltender Simon St. Pierre low to the blocker side at 1:21.
Quinnipiac increased its lead at 9:16 of the second when freshman Ty Deinema won the draw deep in Bentley territory right back to captain Dan Ennis who fired a slap shot in to make it 2-0.
At 12:26 of the second, Quinnipiac forward Chris White was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for boarding, giving the Falcons five minutes of power-play time to try to even things up. They capitalized once on the power play when freshman Josh Thompson somehow slid the puck by the mass of skaters in front of goaltender Jamie Holden to make the score 2-1.
“Unfortunately, we took that five-minute major and let them back in the game with that,” said Pecknold.
The score remained 2-1 until halfway through the third period. At the 9:53 mark, Falcons forward Joe Lovell was called for a slashing penalty and Quinnipiac used its timeout to set up the power play. The strategy worked as a tic-tac-toe power-play goal by Morton sealed the deal for the Bobcats.
Holden made 31 saves for the Bobcats and improved to 2-1 between the pipes.
“He’s a great goaltender. When we were flat in the first period he kept us in the game,” said Pecknold. “He makes all the saves he needs to make, whether there’s a flurry or one every five minutes. He’s just a real steady kid and he doesn’t give up a lot of bad goals.”
At the other end of the rink, St. Pierre played a solid game, making 32 saves and keeping his team in the game for the full 60 minutes.
Soderquist was pleased with his team’s performance in his coaching debut.
“You’re 2-1 coming down into the 10-minute mark of the third period with one of the best teams in the league over the past few years,” he said. “That’s pretty good for a young team, so I think we have more positives to build off than negatives in this game and that’s a good thing.”
Bentley will play Fairfield in the consolation game of the Quinnipiac Cup tournament at 4 p.m. EDT Saturday. Quinnipiac advances to the Q-Cup finals once again and will play American International in a rematch of last year’s final, at 7 p.m.