HAMDEN, Conn. — Head coach Rand Pecknold picked up his 200th career win as Quinnipiac (19-12-3, 16-6-2 AHA) took a decisive 6-1 victory over American International (4-22-4, 4-16-4 AHA), in the regular-season finale for both teams Saturday night, which was senior night at the Northford Ice Pavilion.
Having already clinched the Atlantic Hockey regular-season title and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, the Bobcats were looking for a great performance from the seniors and the rest of the team, in front of 1,004.
Quinnipiac got on the board first with a goal from the all-senior line of Rob Hammel, Jack Devaney and Craig Falite. Hammel scored his third goal of the year when he skated into the slot and ripped the puck past AIC backstop Frank Novello. Devaney added an assist on the goal.
With 2:10 remaining in the first, the Yellow Jackets tied it at 1 on Brent Griffin’s first collegiate goal, shorthanded. Griffin came in one-on-one and put the puck past Jamie Holden’s stick-side. Neil Sullivan and Mark Pavil assisted.
The senior line scored the second of the game as well, this time by Devaney. Devaney left a drop pass for Falite, just inside the blue line. They went in on a two-on-one, on which Falite fed Devaney for the one-timer past Novello. It was Devaney’s first goal of the season and the game winner.
“It feels good when you work hard all year and finally accomplish what you hope to do,” said Devaney.
Quinnipiac took a two-goal lead on senior Matt Craig’s power-play marker, his 15th goal of the season. Reid Cashman fed Matt Sorteberg, who gave it back. Cashman then fed Craig, who shot it between Novello’s pads.
Quinnipiac started the third period on the power play from a slashing penalty to AIC at the end of the second.
Craig capitalized when he scored his second-power play goal of the night. Cashman fed Sorteberg, who ripped his shot wide left, but got a lucky bounce right to Craig’s stick. He put it past an out-of-position Novello to make it 4-1 at 1:35 of the third.
The Bobcats scored their third power-play goal of the game on freshman Ben Nelson’s team-leading 17th goal of the year. Craig won the faceoff back to Cashman, who fed a streaking Nelson in front of the net. Nelson roofed it home past Novello.
Quinnipiac added another power-play goal, this time by John Kelly, for the final score. Cashman and Joe Dumais added helpers.
“We have to stay focused on the rest of the season with the playoffs coming up,” said Devaney.
Cashman had four assists, showing why he was awarded CSTV/HCA National Player of the Month. Nelson had a goal to back up his CSTV/HCA National Rookie of the Month award. Craig also added three points on the night.
The Bobcats will not know who they will face in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs until after No. 8 Army and No. 9 AIC meet in the play-in game on Tuesday night.
“Its going to be a dogfight no matter who we play in the first round next weekend,” said Devaney.
With a win next Saturday, the Bobcats can clinch their fifth 20-win season in the last six.