HAMDEN, Conn. — Two Ben Nelson goals and two shorthanders led the Quinnipiac Bobcats (9-10-3, 6-4-2 AHA) to a two-goal, come-from-behind win, 5-4 in overtime over the Army Black Knights (3-14-2, 2-10-2 AHA) in the first game of a home-and-home series at the Northford Ice Pavilion Friday night.
The last time these two squads exchanged blows, on November 27, the Bobcats came out on top at home and won 5-1.
Army didn’t play like a squad with only three wins on the season. With those wins coming over No. 9 Colgate, Atlantic Hockey leader Holy Cross, and then UConn, Army was impressive from goaltending and coaching, down to their equipment manager.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games, but have no been on the good side of the outcome,” said Army head coach Brian Riley. “Winning is a process, along with experience and confidence you can win games.”
Through the first ten minutes Army held the advantage in shots 11-2. Army was hard-working, outhustling beating Quinnipiac to the loose pucks. Army outshot the Bobcats 14-7 in the period.
Army took an obstruction/holding penalty by Chris Colvin at 14:18 of the first and Quinnipiac responded with the man advantage with a power play goal by Ben Nelson. The play was initiated when Army dumped the puck into the defensive zone where Bobcat’s defensemen Reid Cashman picked up the puck and skated up ice until the red line and fed Chris White, who then passed to an unmanned Ben Nelson, who went in alone on Black Knight backstop Brad Robert’s, and went high over his blocker side to make it 1-0.
The Black Knights’ feisty play and determination led to a Chase Podsiad goal 54 seconds later. An intercepted pass in the Bobcats defensive zone led to the goal past Bobcat net minder Jamie Holden’s glove side.
“The team’s attitude has been positive throughout the season,” said Riley. “Our weakness has been an inability to score goals and when you get four against Holden you could expect a win, but that wasn’t the outcome.”
The second period was more of the same tempo and play, dominated by Army. This was helped by two consecutive penalties 1:17 apart from each other to give Army a 5 on 3 advantage.
Quinnipiac was able to kill off the first penalty and while continuing on the penalty kill, Quinnipiac chipped the puck out of the zone, which bounced over a Black Knight’s stick and Quinnipiac Joe Dumais was off to the races. He picked up the puck and went in on a 2 on 0 with fellow line mate Aaron Ludwig. At the last possible second Dumais passed the fed the puck to Ludwig who put it home past Robert’s to make it 2-1.
“The last time we gave up a short handed goal was here (Quinnipiac) back in November,” said Riley. “We just need to bare down and eliminate their chances.”
Army didn’t back down and lose their composure and responded back with their own 2 on 1 advantage less then three minutes later. Ryan Cruthers scored the goal and assisted were credited to Podsiad and Justin Fagan to tie it at 2.
The third period was one of excitement and thrilling play by both teams. The home crowd helped the Bobcats later in the period to pull off a spectacular comeback.
Army took its first lead of the night at 1:04 into the third on a goal by Chad Fifield on a turnover in the Bobcats zone. Podsiad and Bryce Hollweg assisted on the goal.
Army then extended their lead to 4-2 at 4:45 of the third on a goal by David Andros. Andros took the feed from the left circle from Chris Bilec, to put it past Holden.
The Bobcats were again on the penalty kill when they scored the third goal and second shorthanded of the night at 9:50. For the second time Dumais created the play and picked off an Army pass. He then went in alone for the shorthanded tally on a deke move over Roberts’ pads.
Quinnipiac amazingly tied it up with 2:29 left in regulation. Tom Watkins passed to Matt Froehlich who shot it off Roberts’s pads and Matt Craig was there for the rebound to tie it at 4.
“We made some bad mistakes to a team with great forwards that make you pay,” said Riley.
Going into overtime, the Bobcats had the momentum and the crowd support. They were able to capitalize and take the two points with the game winner by Nelson. Ludwig and Chris White assisted on the goal shot by Nelson which deflected off the referee and went in past Roberts.
“If it weren’t for my great teammates creating scoring opportunities, I would never have the ability to score,” said Nelson.
Four Bobcat players recorded two points a piece and nine total recorded a point. Holden recorded 27 saves for the win to improve to 8-8-3 while Roberts made 23 saves in the loss.
“This win was a great confidence builder heading into the end of the season,” said Nelson.
The Bobcats and Black Knights return to action tomorrow night for the second game of the home and home at Tate Rink, in West Point, N.Y. Game time is slated for 7:05 P.M.