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College Hockey:
Leitch Leads Bobcats to Championship

— Behind freshman Dan Clarke’s 29-save performance in his first collegiate start, the Quinnipiac University Bobcats took a 4-2 decision over the No. 11 Air Force Falcons in the Championship game of the 16th annual UConn Hockey Classic at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum.

“It was a great surprise,” said Associate Head Coach Ben Syer. “It’s a good night to start your college career against the 11th-ranked team in the nation.”

The Bobcats (9-6-1) drew an early penalty and had numerous chances with the man advantage. Air Force’s Andrew Volkening stood strong in net and prevented the Bobcats from taking an early lead.

With less than 20 seconds remaining in the first period, the Bobcats broke out from behind their net for a final rush. David Marshall carried the puck through the neutral zone and fed Bryan Leitch the pass. Leitch controlled the puck and fed a streaking Eric Lampe for the one-timer goal with six seconds remaining in the first.

“It’s always nice to beat a nationally-ranked team,” said Syer. “They are a competitive team. It gives the guys something to spring board into the second half of the season with the win.”

Quinnipiac took a two-goal lead when Marshall received a pass in the slot from Leitch and deked around Volkening and slid the puck along the ice and into the net midway through the second. It was Marshall’s team-leading ninth goal of the year.

“Leitch played well,” said Syer “He back checked well and was committed to playing defense this weekend.”

The goal was Marshall’s 100th career point as a Bobcat. He is the 10th player at Quinnipiac to reach 60 goals, the fourth at Division I. He 28th all-time to reach 100 points and 15th at the D-I level.

The Bobcats took a three-goal lead with Lampe’s second goal of the game. Lampe received a one-timer pass from Spencer Heichman behind the net and beat Volkening far side under the crossbar.

With 8:52 remaining Greg Burgdoefer was penalized with a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. After the initial call Brandon Wong was called for holding and then Andrew Meyer was called for roughing putting the Falcons (14-3-1) on a four-on-three advantage.

Air Force capitalized on the opportunity with a goal by Jeff Hajner. Matt Fairchild took a pass from Greg Flynn that he sent over to Hajner for the blast past Quinnipiac’s Dan Clarke at 11:40.

The Falcons scored a second power-play goal with 2:37 to go, then pulled Volkening in favor of the extra attacker. That paid off for Quinnipiac when Matt Sorteberg added an empty-net goal with 1:22 remaining to seal the championship.

Leitch, Lampe, Clarke, UConn’s Justin Hernandez, Merrimack’s Fraser Allan and Air Force’s Flynn were named to the All-Tournament team, with MVP honors going to Leitch.

The Bobcats return to action Friday evening hosting Harvard while Air Force will play UConn on Saturday.

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