HAMDEN, CT — Paced by Ben Nelson and Brandon Wong’s hat tricks, the Quinnipiac Bobcats cruised to an 8-1 win over the AIC Yellow Jackets in a nonconference matchup Tuesday night at the TD Banknorth Sports Center.
They were the third career hat tricks for each player.
“A win is a win,” said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold. “I think the first three minutes we were ready to play and it was the key to the game.”
Reid Cashman also recorded his 114th career assist in a Bobcat uniform, breaking the school record held by Brian Herbert.
Zach Kleiman got the start for the Bobcats, the first starter in net other then Bud Fisher for Quinnipiac this season.
“It felt great,” said Kleiman. “I was nervous at the beginning but the team kept the shots to the perimeter.”
Quinnipiac scored four goals in the opening five minutes, and five in the opening stanza.
Wong opened the scoring when he received a pass from Chris Myers and made a move to fake out AIC goaltender Tom Fenton. Wong went around the sprawling Fenton for the goal at 1:04.
The Bobcats took a two-goal lead on Nelson’s 11th goal of the season. Jamie Bates and Bryan Letich added assists.
“We had to have our own jam,” said Nelson. We don’t want to build any bad habits with the next two weekends coming up.”
Twenty seconds later the Bobcats took a three-goal lead. Mike Atkinson dumped the puck in from the neutral zone, where it was chased down by Dan Lefort. Lefort fed Eric Lampe behind the net, and he banked the puck off of Fenton’s shoulder.
The fourth goal for the Bobcats made Quinnipiac history. Cashman sent a cross-ice pass to Nelson, who banked the puck off the crossbar for his second of the night. That assist moved Cashman into first all-time in assists at Quinnipiac.
There was no scoring in the second period, as the Bobcats outshot AIC 12-8.
Quinnipiac added three more goals in the third period. Nelson and Wong each got their third, and Mike Atkinson added a power-play goal.
AIC did get on the board with an even-strength goal by David Turco, his third of the season. Chad Richardson blasted a shot from the blue line, saved by Kleiman, but the rebound popped up into the air and fell in the crease, where Turco put in the rebound.
Kleiman made 14 saves in the win, while Dan Cullen played the final 3:27, making two stops.
“He [Kleiman] did a nice job and got the win,” said Pecknold.