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Back and Blue

Quinnipiac rebounds to force third game

— What was once a laughing matter is now anything but for humbled Harvard.

Quinnipiac responded to Fridays 11-0 embarrassment with a resounding 7-4 victory in front of 1,321 at the Bright Hockey Center in Boston. Dan Henningson and Jamie Bates each scored a pair, and senior Ben Nelson scored a goal with four assists in the series-tying triumph.

We had to just go out there, and its not hard to be a little pissed off at ourselves and at Harvard, said the three-point captain Bates. They didnt hold back, and they shouldnt have [on Friday], but the result was insulting nonetheless, he indicated.

The big thing I focused on was with our seniors, said winning head coach Rand Pecknold. I told them, you dont want to go out without a fight.

QU scored the first goal of the night, and their first of the weekend, on an early power play. Applying maintained control in the Harvard end, Bates snuck the puck by a battered and bamboozled Kyle Richter from 15 feet out in the right-wing slot. Richter protested, as he lost his mask in the action, but referee Chip McDonald ruled that the headgear only came loose after the goal had been scored.

Ben Nelson doubled the Bobcats lead five minutes later, slinging a high shot in off the Harvard iron. It was the 10th shot of the game for the upstart visitors, while the Crimson had mustered only two to that point.

They were more ready to play from the start of the game, said Crimson coach Ted Donato.

Donatos skaters would not go quietly, finding their way to the back of the net with seven minutes to go in the first.

Pier-Olivier Michaud put Harvard on the board with his second goal of the series. The freshman, standing on the inner edge of the left-wing circle, received a pass from Friday-night hero Dave Watters, who was behind the goal line to Bud Fishers right. Michaud bobbled the feed for a moment, but made the most of a moments space to wrist a shot near-side over Fishers blocker.

The QU netminder appeared to be off his line on the goal, which was the fourth of Michauds young career — all coming against the Hamden Blue.

With Friday nights slaughter fresh in everyones mind, Fishers teammates picked him up on this evening. Junior Dan Henningson earned the credit for the Cats third goal, taking the wacky shot that hit an obstruction in front, and looped high and over the baffled Richter.

The cushion was not long for this world, however, as Harvard won a 1:51 five-on-three with just over two on the clock, much to Pecknolds consternation. The locals came through, as senior winger Jon Pelle converted on a cross-crease feed from classmate and captain Mike Taylor.

While the score bore little resemblance to the previous nights proceedings, the shots were once again even and prolific as QU took a 16-14 advantage to the locker room. Also of relative novelty to the guests were the special teams numbers: the Bobcats were two of two on the advantage in the first 20, while the Crimson were one-for-four.

Just 19 seconds into the second period, the Blue and Gold made sure to reiterate its intent. Still riding a power play, Bates earned his second goal of the game with a sweet redirection of a Dan Henningson point shot. Bates, grappling with the defense atop Richters crease, tweaked the long low blast higher and over the goalies shoulder.

The Crimson suffered the same penalty-prone malady that had so infected the Bobcats the night before, and QU took advantage for its largest lead of the game.

With a 1:02 five-on-three of their own, Henningson scored his second on a mid-range shot through a complete screen. The point was his fourth of the night, and put QU at a perfect four-for-four on the power play, at least until the remaining minor expired. With the first assist on the goal, Nelson accumulated his fifth point in the games first 23 minutes.

The field-goals difference marked Quinnipiacs largest lead over Harvard this season, and indeed equaled the greatest lead ever over the Crimson: the league-opening 5-2 victory over Harvard on November 4, 2005.

We have to play with more discipline, said Donato of an issue that has plagued the Crimson all year long. I think [the penalties] fed their desire early in the game.

Once again, the Cantabs battled back. Charging the left post from hard angle, Michaud dished a clever line to unmarked Alex Meintel, who was nearly upon the far post himself. Meintel poked home the easy score to cut the lead to 5-3 with over 28 minutes yet to play.

Bates made a persuasive bid for the hat trick with three-and-change to go, ringing a blistering wrister off the top of the crossbar on a two-on-one rush. Eric Lampe made up for it two minutes later.

The sophomore from Badger country picked up a fortuitous bounce in the neutral zone, and soared in on Richter on an 80-foot shorthanded breakaway. Curling softly from right to left, Lampe lifted a last-second attempt over Richters toe for the Bobcats sixth goal and his third shorty of the year.

Ill be honest, I think we had a lot of guys who didnt have great games tonight, and Kyle was one of them, Donato said.

The Q-Cats finished off the kill as the horn blared, leaving the home team one-for-five on the advantage. In keeping with the bizarre theme of the series thus far, the Qs three second-period goals came on only six shots.

Fisher came up big four minutes into the third, stopping a pair of quality one-time bids to maintain the comfortable lead.

Meintel and the Crimson simply would not say die, cutting the lead to two with 7:35 to play. The senior swooped into the offensive zone down the right-wing lane, and whipped a far-side laser over Fishers blocker.

Harvard pressed hard, and dictated large portions of the period, but could not break through an extremely aggressive and effective Quinnipiac defense. Harvard got another gift with four minutes to go, as senior Dan Travis took an injudicious holding minor to put the potent Crimson power play on the ice.

The rambunctious PK unit stymied the attackers though, hurrying and harrying the white shirts into tight spots and poor decisions. With both sides even and 1:17 to go, the coaches each used their timeouts to discuss the games ultimate minutiae.

Off the faceoff and around the boards, QU junior David Marshall was hit with his face to the glass. The Minnesotan went down, necessitating an extended visit from the trainer, but skated off the ice under his own power after a minutes delay.

Junior blueliner Andrew Meyer put the icing on QUs series-tying confection, sending the disk downstream into Harvards open net. Harvard out-shot the Cats 22-5 in the third period, but only beat Fisher once.

Theres no question we were going to have to deal with some adversity tonight we didnt play a perfect game, but we competed, stated Pecknold.

With 11 goals scored in each of the first two games of this series, there is an undeniable anything-can-happen perception of the deciding contest on Sunday; neither coach felt up to analyzing Sunday night, as there are so many imperfections to be addressed for each side.

I told our guys that we were fortunate, that tonight was the last [game] we could afford to lose, said Donato.

One of these teams will be done for the year by late Sunday night, as neither is currently in the hunt for an NCAA at-large bid. Saturdays final signified the first time the Crimson have ever failed to sweep a home playoff series after winning Game 1.

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