NORTHFORD, Conn. — If you were looking for a rivalry filled with hard hitting, fast tempo, high number of shots, and spectacular goaltending, the Quinnipiac and Connecticut game was where you wanted to be Friday night.
The Connecticut Huskies (5-14-2, 4-6-1 AHA) took a 1-0 lead in the Heroes Hat series, honoring the victims of 9/11, with a 4-1 win over the Quinnipiac Bobcats (6-10-3, 3-4-2 AHA) Friday night at the Northford Ice Pavilion Friday night.
The Bobcats returned home Friday night after road trips to Buffalo, Erie, and Orono. Quinnipiac has been struggling as of late, winning only one of their last seven.
The game opened up in the early minutes with hard hitting, rock ‘em, sock ‘em, play. You could feel the intensity between the two inter-state teams. The tension and competitiveness could be cut with a knife.
Scoring got started at 1:48 of the first when Connecticut sent the puck down the left side of the ice by Jarret Scarpaci, and picked up by Bill Magnuson. This opened up the slot when Quinnipiac Defenseman Joe Testa went to Magnuson. Aaron Kakepetum was open in the slot and put the puck in on the breakaway through the five hole of Bobcat goaltender Josh Siembida.
Quinnipiac led in the shots category 20-4 in the first, but UConn led the only statistical category that matters, goals scored, 1-0. Huskies goaltender Scott Tomes had no problem with the barrage of shots he faced making glove, pad, and diving save after another, helping to preserve the UConn lead.
“We ran around early in the game and just dumped the puck into the zone or tried to make plays at the redline,” said Connecticut Head Coach Bruce Marshall. “In the second and third periods we shot the puck on net and created more scoring opportunities.”
The Bobcats finally scored on their 27th shot of the night when Ben Nelson put a rebound puck in off of Tomes’ chest. Quinnipiac was pressuring, as they had all night, when he finally broke. Mike Bordieri took the initial shot when he was fed by Peter Alden. The puck hit the chest of Tomes and fell inside the crease where Nelson’s stick was and put it in to tie it at one a piece.
The second and third periods were thrilling due to spectacular goaltending. The periods were highlight reels for both backstops. Each goalie would try to out do the other making a save. Tomes would make a magnificent glove save, followed by a pad stacking stop by Siembida, and so on. This created cheering and excitement after each save. The crowd was treated to a spectacular goaltending duel.
“He [Tomes] is coming off a great weekend at Army and his confidence is up,” said Marshall. “He was getting he shoulders squared to the puck, able to see the pucks and he settled in making the stops he needed to.”
UConn was able to take a 2-1 lead on a John Stockler goal. Husky forward Tim Olsen created a turnover in the Bobcat defensive zone and fed it to the front of the crease where the puck went in off of Stockler’s skate.
The goal was initially waived off by head referee Jack Dunn. He then overturned his own decision after talking with his linesmen and goal judge.
UConn then added two empty net goals by Matt Scherer and Charles Solberg to make it 4-1.
The game totaled 77 shots with Quinnipiac leading 49-28. Everyone on the Quinnipiac roster had at least one shot on net. Both teams were scoreless on the power play going a combined 0 for 9. Quinnipiac has won the three previous Heroes Hats series.
The Bobcats travel to Storrs, Conn. to finish up the home and home series with the Huskies. Game time is slated for 7:05.