PRINCETON, N.J. — Senior forward and team captain Jamie Bates tallied a goal and three assists, and combined with linemates Bryan Leitch and Ben Nelson for four goals and seven assists altogether, as visiting Quinnipiac topped Princeton, 5-2, for the second time this season and the first time in league play before a pre-Thanksgiving crowd of 1,207 at Hobey Baker Rink. The Bobcats had earlier blanked the Tigers, 4-0, on Saturday in a non-conference contest in Hamden, Conn.
Quinnipiac (5-3-2, 2-1-2 ECAC) is now unbeaten in its last four outings, while Princeton (3-4-0, 2-3-0 ECAC) has fallen in its last four games. The Bobcats outshot the Tigers, 30-25, and went 2-for-6 on the power play while Princeton was scoreless in three man-advantage attempts. Junior netminder Bud Fisher finished with 23 saves for Quinnipiac, while Princeton got 25 stops from sophomore goaltender Zane Kalemba as the Tigers rallied briefly from a two-goal deficit.
“We were fortunate to get out of the second period,” said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold, now in his 14th season behind the Bobcat bench. “They took it to us, but we reloaded between the second and third periods, and played smarter and a lot hungrier in the third.”
Leitch put Quinnipiac on top at 9:10 of the first period with just four seconds remaining on a Bobcat power play. Dan Henningson fed Bates from the opposite side as he dropped down from the right point, and Bates swerved to his left through the slot and got off a backhand shot that Kalemba stopped. Leitch picked up the loose puck at the far post and let go with his own backhander that glanced off a Princeton skate and slid into the net for his fifth goal of the year. Quinnipiac is now 4-0 in games this season where Leitch scores a goal.
“We got all the breaks, and the puck just seemed to find our sticks,” said Bates.
“They played well,” said Pecknold of his first line. “That’s the best game they’ve had this year.”
The Bobcats made it a 2-0 affair when Nelson pulled away from a checker in the corner of the Princeton zone and skated out in front. The Spokane native then swept around Kalemba, and tucked the puck past the goalie’s left leg and inside the near post while falling down himself at 12:38 for his fourth goal this fall. Leitch and Bates both assisted.
Princeton would get on the board at 3:49 of the second stanza after killing off a penalty. The puck bounced over the Quinnipiac net from the right side and landed outside the far post before making its way back to the left point where freshman blueliner Matt Godlewski collected it and fired. His shot was stopped on its way to the net, but the rebound drifted into the bottom of the left circle where classmate Mike Kramer wristed it inside the far post for his first career collegiate goal.
Kramer just missed on an in-close chance with 12:04 left, but the Tigers would knot matters less than a minute later. Cam MacIntyre couldn’t get off a backhander from the slot, but the puck slipped out to Princeton captain Mike Moore, whose high shot was stopped by Fisher. The puck then dropped into the crease where Lee Jubinville slammed it into the cage at 8:49 for his third goal of the campaign.
“They outworked us in the second period, but every league game has been tight going into the third period this year,” said Bates. “We knew if we played good defense, then the puck would go in for us.”
The Bobcats regained the lead for good with 64 seconds left in the period. Kalemba turned aside a shot by Bates, but the puck came back to Nelson, who was manning the left point, and his shot through a screen made it past Kalemba’s glove to put Quinnipiac up, 3-2.
The Tigers were five seconds away from killing off a tripping penalty to junior Brett Wilson early in the final period when the Bobcats struck again for a two-goal cushion. Andrew Meyer’s shot from the left side hit Princeton sophomore defenseman Jody Pederson in front of the net, and Quinnipiac junior David Marshall was there to pick up the loose puck near the goal line and roof it into the net at 3:52 for his fifth score of the season.
The Tigers threatened to get back within a goal with 10:33 remaining in regulation, when Wilson sent a back pass to MacIntyre in the left circle for a clear chance, but the sophomore’s shot was stopped by Fisher.
“That’s what he does,” said Pecknold of Fisher. “He was very economical, and he always plays well in this building.”
Bates then closed out the scoring at 11:11 when he connected from the right circle off of the rebound of a Nelson shot for his fourth point of the night and second goal of the season, with Leitch garnering the other assist. The trio combined for three goals all on their own on the evening, as the Bobcats recorded their third straight victory over the Tigers dating back to last season.
“We got off to a slow start this year, and we know that if we’re going to win games we have to outwork other teams,” said Bates. “If the guys buy into that, we’ll have success.”
MacIntyre was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting from behind at 11:56, and will be absent from the Princeton lineup when the Bobcats and Tigers close out their season series on Saturday afternoon at Quinnipiac’s TD Banknorth Sports Center.