HAMDEN, Conn. — The Quinnipiac University Bobcats (13-14-0) took a hard-fought game, 5-2, over the Niagara Purple Eagles (13-12-1) Saturday night at the Northford Ice Pavilion.
Coming into the game the Bobcats were winless against the Purple Eagles in five chances. But that was with a different look. In the contest, the Bobcats debuted their new third jerseys — Gold with blue trim — and also raffled off a jersey to the students known as the ‘Crazy Bobcats.’
The Bobcats got on the board early and often. Reid Cashman recorded the first goal of the night at 15:40 of the first. Ben Nelson won the face off to the left of Purple Eagles goaltender Jeff Van Nyatten. Brian Leitch picked up the puck, passed to Cashman in the slot, and he hit the top right corner for the goal. It was Cashman’s first goal in over two months.
The Bobcats made it a two-goal lead when Jamie Bates netted his first of the contest at 19:08. Leitch and Nelson both assisted on this goal as well.
The Bobcats had many scoring opportunities and managed twenty shots in the period, while Niagara had only had two.
“It may have been the best period all year,” said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold.
Niagara was able to cut the deficit in half on Vince Rocco’s power-play goal. Justin Cross fed Jason Williamson and found Rocco on the backdoor with a wide open net for the goal.
The Purple Eagles tied the game at 11:32 of the second on a delayed penalty call. Bobcats’ goaltender Bud Fisher was knocked down in the crease by one of his own players and Sean Bentivoglio scored on the opportunity.
Quinnipiac answered less then 30 seconds later when Leitch squeaked the puck through Van Nyatten’s legs on the power play for the lead. Matt Sorteberg and Leitch assisted on the goal.
At 17:15 of the second, David Marshall wowed the crowd with a beautiful goal. Marshall received a pass from Mark Nelson and went in one-on-one with a Niagara defender. Marshall toe dragged the puck, with the defender going down, faked a shot, stopped, waited for Van Nyatten to commit and then roofed the puck for the two-goal lead.
“He [Marshall] puts us up by two and it was a pretty special goal,” said Pecknold. “It was unique.”
Niagara fared better in shots in the second period, recording 11, while the Bobcats had 20 more for a two-period total of 40.
The Bobcats took a three goal lead on Jamie Bates’ second goal of the game when he one timed a pass in front of the net from a pass by Leitch. Cashman also assisted on the goal.
After the goal, Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder pulled Van Nyatten in favor of Juliano Pagliero.
The Bobcats finished the night with 54 shots and the Purple Eagles had 22. Fisher took the decision making twenty saves.
“I was very happy with student turn out and the pep band, it was very special,” said Pecknold.
Quinnipiac returns to ECACHL action next weekend when they host St. Lawrence and Clarkson, while Niagara will host Air Force.