STORRS, Conn. — Just in case Connecticut was looking to try on the Heroes’ Hat after Friday night’s 4-1 win over Quinnipiac in Northford, the Bobcats came out on Saturday and reminded the Huskies that the Hat still belongs to them.
Freshman Mark Van Vliet tied a Heroes’ Hat record with three assists, Reid Cashman added three points of his own on a goal and two assists, and Quinnipiac tied the season series with the Huskies with a 4-1 at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum. As a result, the Heroes’ Hat — a fireman’s helmet awarded to the winner of the UConn-Quinnipiac season series in honor of friends of both programs who died in the September 11 attacks — will go to the winner of the teams’ next game, which will be played in Storrs on March 3.
“The guys were just hungry,” said Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold, whose Bobcats improved to 7-10-3 (4-4-2 Atlantic Hockey) with the win. “We needed a win, and they really responded. I thought our power play got it done, and if you’re going to win hockey games, you need to have a good power play.”
“The biggest factor was that we let them get off feeling good,” UConn coach Bruce Marshall said, as his team fell to 5-15-2 (4-7-1 Atlantic Hockey) with the loss. “They wanted to make us pay for last night, beating them down in their barn. So, they responded, and we didn’t answer that call right off the bat.”
Quinnipiac jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, testing UConn goalkeeper Brad Smith with 14 first-period shots. Senior Chris White had the first shot that hit the mark, as he one-timed a Cashman pass into a the net from the left faceoff circle for his fourth goal of the season at 3:57.
The Bobcats made it 2-0 on an even-strength goal five minutes later, when junior Peter Alden scored his first career goal during a scramble in front of the net. The third goal was another power-play tally, as a rebound found Cashman’s stick, and the sophomore from Red Wing, Minn., slammed it home.
“It was just one of those things where I got the puck on my stick and good things seemed to happen,” Cashman said of his three points, a career high. “It’s what we needed as a team. We needed to get some goals, build up our confidence a little bit, so everybody’s pretty happy in the locker room right now.
13 saves from Quinnipiac goaltender Jamie Holden kept the Huskies off the board, and the Bobcats went to the locker room with a 3-0 lead.
The second period wasn’t quite as eventful on the scoreboard, as Bobcat senior Matt Froelich’s tip-in of a Cashman wrist shot was the only goal of the middle frame. Van Vliet also picked up an assist, his third of the game, tying former Husky Ron D’Angelo’s Heroes’ Hat record, set on February 28, 2003.
“Our whole team worked hard tonight,” Van Vliet said, “so we got on the pucks first, and things came about. We stressed shooting the puck a lot more, getting more to the net, so it worked out.”
While the rest of the period was uneventful on the scoreboard, there was no shortage of fireworks in the 13th minute of the period, when a lengthy scuffle broke out in front of the UConn bench. When the dust had cleared, double minors and 10-minute misconducts had been handed out to White and Quinnipiac freshman Nick Barnych, along with the Huskies’ William Magnuson and Matthew Scherer.
UConn looked to make a move at the start of the third, as senior captain Tim Olsen put his team on the board with a shot that hopped over Holden’s stick and into the net. However, the Huskies were unable to get another goal, and the rest of the period passed without another score. The rough play, though, continued on both sides, and UConn’s Trevor Stewart and Quinnipiac’s Craig Falite were sent off with game disqualifications with 1:19 remaining in the game (for spearing and fighting, respectively).
The Bobcats will continue their Atlantic Hockey schedule next Saturday, when they host Holy Cross at 7 p.m. in Northford, Conn. (the game scheduled for Friday at Holy Cross has been moved to Feb. 12 as part of a conference doubleheader at the FleetCenter). UConn, meanwhile, will step out of conference action to take on another in-state rival next Saturday, as the Huskies visit Yale at 2 p.m.
Elliot Olshansky is an assistant editor for CollegeSports.com.