HAMDEN, Conn. — Behind 22 saves from senior netminder Jamie Holden, the Quinnipiac Bobcats (20-12-3) took a 2-0 victory over the Army Black Knights (7-21-3) in their Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal Saturday night at the Northford Ice Pavilion.
“Were excited to move on,” said Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold. “The guys have been playing well and we’re getting great goaltending.”
In three regular-season games between these squads, the Bobcats swept all three.
The first period was defensive-minded. Army had the first opportunity to strike when Quinnipiac took a two-minute interference call coupled with a five-minute hitting from behind penalty. The Bobcats proved why they were the number-one penalty-killing unit in Atlantic Hockey, killing off both penalties and not allowing a shot on net.
“The penalty kill did a great job tonight, allowing me to see the pucks, and I got a few lucky bounces,” said Holden.
“We couldn’t ask for anything better, not allowing a shot on net during the penalty kill,” said Nelson.
Both clubs also played very physical, with bodies and sticks falling all over the ice.
“It was a rough, physical game with Army tonight,” confirmed Pecknold.
Quinnipiac was crashing the net on each of Army goaltender Brad Roberts’ rebounds starting the second. The Bobcats finally cashed in at 5:57 of the second on Ben Nelson’s 18th of the year and first postseason goal.
Holden sent a pass up ice to Ty Deinema. Deinema fed Nelson, who deked around the Army defenseman, and blasted the puck past Roberts just below the crossbar. It was Holden’s first assist of the year.
The Bobcats scored their second of the period on Rob Hammel’s power-play goal, his fourth tally of the year. With eight seconds remaining on the power play, Quinnipiac won the faceoff back to Reid Cashman, who took the initial shot on net. Joe Dumais corralled the rebound, saved by Roberts, and Hammel picked up the second rebound and twinkled the twine to make it 2-0.
“Army is a good, hard-working team, but we have a little better skill and work ethic,” said Hammel.
The third period was a battle to the end with Army trying to cut the deficit, while Quinnipiac was trying to preserve the victory. Army was only able to muster three shots in the final stanza.
There were a total of 19 penalties and 49 penalty minutes in the contest. Holden improves to 19-10-3 overall, while Roberts made 25 saves in the loss.
“Jamie was fantastic tonight and played one of his best games of they year,” said Pecknold.
The Bobcats return to action next Friday at the Northford Ice Pavilion to host the rest of the Atlantic Hockey tournament.
“It doesn’t matter who we play in the next round,” said Hammel. “We have the best skill in the league and how we play will determine how we do.”