SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Four of the past six meetings between Union and Quinnipiac have been decided by one goal, with three of those games going to overtime. So, a barnburner was expected tonight at Messa Rink. The Dutchmen took a 2-0 lead in the second period, but the Bobcats fought their way back to tie the top team in the ECAC 2-2.
“We were opportunistic,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “Hockey’s a game of bounces, and we got a couple of good bounces and made some plays.”
“We didn’t play great tonight, but you got to give credit to Quinnipiac,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “They got a couple of seeing eye dogs, but that’s hockey.”
“There were stretches where we weren’t as intense as we needed to be, we weren’t winning our battles, and weren’t getting pucks deep,” Union captain Brock Matheson said. “There were times we didn’t play our ‘A’ game and we found ourselves behind the 8-ball as a result.”
The first period saw neither team able to put the puck in the net. The Bobcats received some good opportunities on their three power-play chances, but could not solve Union goaltender Keith Kinkaid.
The Dutchmen received their first man advantage early in the middle frame. They capitalized on the chance 38 seconds into the power play when John Simpson’s shot from the point was deflected into the net by Adam Presizniuk in front of Quinnipiac goaltender Dan Clarke, who was screened on the play.
Union doubled the lead less than six minutes later when Kyle Bodie received a pass from Andrew Buote in the neutral zone and proceeded to skate into the left circle and snipe a wrist shot into the top right corner of the net past Clarke’s glove.
Union held the momentum for most of the period until the Bobcats cut the deficit in half. As Taylor Reid’s interference penalty expired, Brooks Robinson flipped the puck past Kinkaid on a small scrum in front of the Union net for his first career goal.
Union almost got the lead back to two when Kelly Zajac went down the ice on a breakaway, but Clarke stood tall and made the stop.
The Bobcats clawed their way back to tie the score with less than seven minutes left in regulation when John Dunbar ripped a low wrister past Kinkaid off of a faceoff win by Connor Jones in the left faceoff circle.
“We came out a little flat in the third,” said Clarke. “But the guys battled back and you can’t ask anything more out of them.”
The Dutchmen had a chance to avenge the blown lead late in overtime when Quinnipiac’s Mike Glaicar was penalized for hooking John Simpson, but Clarke and the Bobcats penalty kill were up to the task and held on for the tie.
“I was just trying to come out to do my best and give the guys a chance to win,” said Clarke. “I think the guys played really well tonight.”
Luckily for Union, Colgate tied Yale in New Haven, which still leaves them in the driver’s seat for the Cleary Cup with one game left in the regular season. If Union wins tomorrow against Princeton, they will be the top seed in the ECAC playoffs. Quinnipiac heads to RPI tomorrow to take on the Engineers. They just need one point to clinch home-ice in the first round of the playoffs.
“We got a little bit lucky as Yale tied tonight to, so destiny is still in our hands,” said Presizniuk.
“It’s going to be another tight one tomorrow,” added Leaman.