HAMDEN, Conn. — Matt Sorteberg’s third-period goal proved to be the game winner as the Quinnipiac Bobcats 16-12-3, 13-6-2 AHA) won an impressive 5-3 victory over the Sacred Heart Pioneers (13-17-1, 13-7-1 AHA) Friday night at the Northford Ice Pavilion, moving the Bobcats into first place in Atlantic Hockey.
Quinnipiac, winner of 10 of its last 12, took over first place in Atlantic Hockey. Sacred Heart dropped into second place, one point back.
The intensity of the intrastate rivals was felt all over, with both teams having a significant crowd at the game, creating a playoff-like atmosphere.
Quinnipiac took the lead at 4:06 of the first on a Jamie Bates goal. The Bobcats, pressuring in the offensive zone, struck first when Chris White fed Bates for a shot through the five-hole of Pioneers goaltender Kevin LaPointe.
Sacred Heart tied it up at one on a Nick Kary tally at 7:50 of the first. Kary took a shot from the right circle which hit two Quinnipiac players and finally bounced into the net past Bobcats backstop Jamie Holden.
White made it 2-1 on the 100th point of his career. This time, Bates created a turnover in the offensive zone and fed White in the slot, where he beat LaPointe upstairs at 4:52 of the second.
On a four on four, Quinnipiac made it 3-1, on a Matt Froehlich breakaway goal. Sorteberg threw the puck up high from the blue line and hit the tape of Froehlich’s stick. He went in and beat LaPointe glove side.
Sacred Heart cut the lead in half on a Pierre-Luc O’Brien power-play goal. Holden made the initial save, but couldn’t control the rebound, which O’Brien put past him.
Just over a minute later, the Pioneers struck again, on a goal by Chris Connerty. Holden was screened by two Sacred Heart players and the puck ripped past him. Drew Sanders and Peter Ferraro assisted.
“Our confidence is high right now, that if we get down a few goals, we still feel we can win,” said White.
With the momentum heading into the third period, Sacred Heart appeared to be poised to take a lead, but that was not the case.
The Bobcats took a 4-3 edge on Sorteberg’s third goal of the season. On a faceoff to the left of LaPointe, Mike Bordieri won the draw back to Reid Cashman, who fed Sorteberg. Sorteberg blasted the puck, and LaPointe got his glove on it, but it trickled in nonetheless.
John Kelly added an empty-net goal to seal the victory for the Bobcats.
“We’re going to go down to Sacred Heart tomorrow and they will come out very strong,” said White. We will play tough and hopefully stay on top.”
“We needed a better third period then we [had] tonight to win the game,” said Sacred Heart head coach Shaun Hannah.
Holden made 23 saves in net to improve to 15-10-3 while LaPointe made 32 in the loss to move to 10-12-1.
The season series finishes Saturday at the Milford Ice Pavilion. Game time is slated for 5 p.m.