NEW HAVEN, Conn. — With just under seven minutes to go in tonight’s Nutmeg State showdown, Quinnipiac winger David Marshall sliced through the Yale defense only to be robbed by Josh Gartner’s sprawling pad save.
In a move emblematic of Yale’s night, Marshall promptly scooped up his own rebound and, unmolested, swept the puck into the vacant net for his second and the Bobcats’ sixth goal of the night.
Quinnipiac (17-15-1, 8-12-1) did not need the freshman’s 20th goal of the season to ensure its 6-2 victory over the struggling Bulldogs (8-17-2, 6-13-2). But it came to the delight of the Bobcat faithful, hundreds of blue-and-yellow-clad undergrads who poured into nearby Ingalls Rink to make tonight’s battle a virtual home game.
“The Quinnipiac fans were great,” Bobcats head coach Rand Pecknold said after the game. “They came out early with paint on their bodies and I think that gave us a lot of energy early on.”
So did three quick goals in a dominant first period.
Jamie Bates opened the scoring for the Bobcats at 2:48 when Brian Leitch, another impressive freshman, found him behind the Yale defense. Bates, a right-handed shooter, caught Leitch’s pass on his forehand before deking to his backhand side to beat Yale’s Alec Richards.
Marshall scored Quinnipiac’s second goal when he wiggled around Matt Craig and saw his partially tipped shot slide between the legs of Richards.
Quinnipiac scored again when freshman winger Chris Myers added a third first-period goal right off an offensive zone faceoff when his seemingly innocent wrist shot caromed off the stick of a Yale defenseman and into the net.
“This one really got away from us in the first period,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor admitted. “We had too many defensive breakdowns in very high-risk areas of the ice and Quinnipiac took advantage. I didn’t think we were in sync at all tonight.”
A fourth goal in the second period chased Richards from the Yale net, but replacing him with the senior Gartner proved to be a move akin to fixing a flat tire by getting an oil change. Like his predecessor, Gartner was abandoned time and again by a languid Yale defense.
The Bulldogs picked up their level of play slightly in the third period, getting power-play goals from Jean-Francois Boucher and Blair Yaworski, but they did little to mitigate the embarrassment of losing to the rival Bobcats, whom they edged 4-3 January 8.
The surprising adequacy of Quinnipiac, a team picked to finish 12th in the ECACHL by some preseason polls, can be attributed to the success of its freshman class.
Leitch leads the Bobcats with 39 points, Marshall is tops in goals, and goalie Bud Fisher, who has started 27 of 33 games, made 33 saves while lowering his goals against average to 2.53.
“We’ve put some freshmen in there to produce and they’ve done some big things for us,” Pecknold said, signaling out Leitch and Marshall by name.
“We were sloppy, especially in the third, and Fish made some big saves to keep [the puck] out of there. We certainly would not be where we are today without the production we’ve gotten from these freshmen.”
Where Quinnipiac is today is ninth place, two places better than Yale.