HAMDEN, Conn. — “I think we have a better chance of beating Holy Cross or Mercyhurst than we do the six, seven or eight team in our league, because the guys get more fired up to beat them,” said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold.
American International wasn’t wearing green or purple, but wore its road black uniforms and broke Quinnipiac’s nine-game home winning streak with a 1-1 tie.
The Bobcats started out much like they did in the first meeting between the two teams, with a 1-0 lead. The Bobcats used a three-on-one opportunity to start the scoring as Quinnipiac forward Matt Craig came across the AIC blue line with Ryan Morton on his left and then Matt Froehlich approaching along the left side. Craig spotted Froehlich skating into the zone, and dished the puck off to Froehlich, who flipped the puck up and over the right shoulder of AIC goaltender Chad Davis.
From that point Davis only became tougher to beat. The second period provided end-to-end action but no goals for either team.
“I thought we were very committed defensively we really made and effort to cut down their odd-man rushes, and I think to a large extent that was a big part of our success as well,” said AIC head coach Gary Wright.
The Bobcats carried most of the play but only ended up outshooting AIC 8-7 in the second stanza. Quinnipiac goaltender Justin Eddy also came up big for the Bobcats with numerous saves, finishing the night with 25.
However, in the third period the Yellow Jackets took advantage of a penalty against Quinnipiac’s Ty Deinema for cross-checking at the 12:41 mark. The Yellow Jackets were persistent on the power play and finally converted with 26 seconds remaining with the man advantage. The play developed from behind the Bobcats’ net as began to break the puck out, but instead as the puck deflected off the net it came out in front to the forechecker John Levesque who was standing on the doorstep waiting for the puck.
The puck bounced right in front of him and wasted little time as he shoved it through Justin Eddy’s pads to tie the game at 1-1.
“They kind of sit around and they hang around, and they hang around and we’ve talked about you have to put them away early, and we have really struggled to score goals this year,” said Pecknold.
Quinnipiac had chances to win, but failed to capitalize. The first crucial play came with under a minute left, when Davis had come out to play a puck at the right circle. He misplayed a puck that ended up on the stick Quinnipiac forward Joe Dumais. With AIC players coming to Davis rescue as Dumais fired the shot, it hit off AIC defenseman Jay Fennessy’s skate and never crossed the goal line.
The teams failed to settle the game in regulation, and once again the Bobcats dominated overtime and had another perfect chance to score but failed to convert. With three seconds left, Quinnipiac forward Matt Froehlich picked up the puck inside the blue line and approached the slot area. He wound up for a slapshot that struck Davis right in the chest to preserve the 1-1 tie.
“I thought we were very committed defensively we really made and effort to cut down their odd man rushes and I think to a large extent that was a big part of our success as well,” said Wright
Davis, in his 11th game of the season, made 28 saves.
“We’ve been going with Frank more, and I thought Chad always has had the capability of coming up big for us and that was a great effort on his part on the road. Obviously he had some outstanding saves tonight including right at the end of this game. Chad was a big part of this win and I am really pleased for him,” said Wright
“Right now we have great team of muckers and grinders, and a lot of good defensive forwards and if we are going to go anywhere in the playoffs we need to win 2-1, hockey games and play great defense and that will be our focus,” said Pecknold.
Quinnipiac settles for one point and its fourth tie of the season, bringing its record to 11-11-4, while AIC picks up a point in the standings and to 4-17-3 on the season with the tie.
“We were obviously really pleased with our effort here and Quinnipiac is a real strong team, and when you play a team of that caliber and you come in and have a good effort on the road you have to be pleased. We certainly are,” said Wright