HAMDEN, Conn. — The Quinnipiac Bobcats (13-10-3, 10-4-2 AHA) came back from deficits of 1-0 and 3-2 to beat the American International Yellow Jackets 6-3, at the Northford Ice Pavilion on Friday night.
It was the first league meeting between these two clubs this season. The two teams battled in the opening round of the Quinnipiac Cup back in October, with the Bobcats prevailing 3-2.
American International (3-18-2, 3-12-2 AHA) has only recorded one point in its last four games, that a tie on Tuesday with Bentley. Quinnipiac came into the night riding a six-game winning streak, sitting in fourth place in the conference, three points behind league leader Canisius, which is idle this week.
This game felt as if you were a passenger in a car, stuck in a traffic jam on I-95 in New York City. It went back and forth through the first two periods, with each team controlling play and then losing it.
The Yellow Jackets struck early in the first on a shorthanded tally by Ron Miller. Todd O Neil created the turnover in the Bobcats zone and Miller pinpointed his shot just below the crossbar over Bobcat netminder Jamie Holden’s blocker.
Quinnipiac didn’t back down and answered 16 seconds later, on the power play, with Matt Craig’s 12th goal of the season. Ben Nelson fed Matt Froehlich, whose shot was saved by AIC goaltender Frank Novello, but Novello was unable to corral the puck and Craig was on the doorstep to put in the rebound.
The Bobcats got their second goal of the night when Craig went the length of the ice with Froehlich at his side. Craig fed Froehlich and he put it behind Novello to make it 2-1 at 11:42.
On the power play less then two minutes later, AIC evened up the score again, with a tally by C.J. McConnell. Greg Genovese fed McConnell, who deflected it off of a Quinnipiac player through Holden’s five-hole.
“We had a lot of opportunities, a nice power-play goal, and some one-on-ones with the goaltender,” said American International coach Gary Wright.
AIC was outshot 16-3 in the first period, but scored two goals on those shots. Of the four goals scored in the period, only one was even-strength.
The Yellow Jackets went ahead 3-2 at the 2:21 mark of the second on a Neil Sullivan marker. Jeremy Leroux drew a Bobcat defender to him, opening up the middle of the ice, and fed Sullivan, who went in. He was taken down in the process, but still managed to control the puck and get a shot through Holden.
The momentum shifted back to the Bobcats and for rest of the game, when freshmen Mark Van Vliet netted his sixth of the season. The Bobcats won the draw back to Cashman, who sent it over to Matt Sorteberg, who ripped the puck which created a bouncing rebound to Van Vliet. He put it in to make it 3-3.
Quinnipiac took the lead, 4-3, on Matt Craig’s second goal of the night and 13th of the season, on the power play. Cashman fed Craig, who made a nifty move in front of Novello, and put it under his pads.
“I thought Quinnipiac generated a lot off of the rushes and we had trouble with the back-door opportunities,” said Wright.
The Bobcats then turned the heat up, scoring two goals in the first 1:49 of the second with tallies by Cashman and Nelson.
Nelson, in the process of recording one goal and an assist in the game, extended his point streak to six games and his goal-scoring streak to five games. Sorteberg has recorded five points in his last three games. Cashman is also on a seven-game point-scoring streak.
The Bobcats extended their winning streak to seven games heading into Saturday’s game against Holy Cross at the FleetCenter. AIC heads down I-95 a few more miles to play Sacred Heart. Both games start at 5 p.m.