College Hockey:
Quinnipiac and Harvard battle to unsettling tie

— Two squads fresh off Friday night disappointment sought a positive decision on Saturday, but had to settle for a neutral one as Quinnipiac and Harvard battered each other into a 2-2 draw.

Jeremy Langlois scored his league-leading ninth goal (and 15th point) of the season for the Bobcats (7-3-1, 1-1-1 ECAC) and sophomore Cory Hibbeler notched his third in support of goaltender Eric Hartzell (23 saves).

“I’m disappointed with how we played tonight,” lamented QU head coach Rand Pecknold, whose team entered the weekend 7-2-0, but couldn’t put away Dartmouth or Harvard despite holding numerous leads. “I thought about half our guys competed hard and half our guys took a lot of shortcuts. We’ve been good early this season because we’ve had 18 guys competing, but we just had too many guys taking shortcuts tonight.”

Conor Morrison and David Valek answered for the Crimson (0-1-1, 0-1-1) with their first goals of the season and Raphael Girard made 24 stops to earn his first point in only the second start of his career.

“I thought our guys battled hard,” Harvard head coach Ted Donato said. “I think Raph was excellent tonight and I’m happy for him. I don’t think we’re ever fully content with a tie – certainly at home – but there were a lot of positives as well.”

The hosts were encouraged by a vastly-improved penalty kill from the night prior, denying QU on each of three power plays after allowing three goals in four shorthanded situations against Princeton on Friday.

“We weren’t on the same page enough and I think we did a better job taking away some of their options (tonight),” said Donato.

The first-period ice seemed to funnel toward Girard, and even though the green ‘keeper faced only eight shots, he was constantly on guard by the Bobcats’ persistent buzzing. Langlois collected the game’s first goal with a bottle-bopping wrister from in close that just found the inside of the crossbar.

“That first goal was typical of how we’ve been playing,” said Pecknold. “We were good in transition, we got a puck to the net, we were scrappy and gritty and got a rebound goal.”

Morrison buried his first of the year on the power play early in the game’s second period, making no mistake with a big cross-ice rebound of Alex Killorn’s left-wing bomb. Killorn set the play up nicely in advance of his shot, winning the offensive-zone faceoff for his sixth successful draw in six tries.

“Our compete level and attention to details was much better,” said Donato. “There was a little stretch to start the game where we were on our heels a bit, but I thought after that – after we scored the first goal – from that point on we were able to get them pinned in their zone a lot more often and play our game.”

Colin Blackwell should have given the Crimson their first lead of the young season just moments later, but fanned while falling into the wide-open net. The cage came loose before the puck crossed the line, hence the negated goal.

QU’s Hibbeler batted in a waist-high centering feed six minutes later, despite being tied up approaching the net in a two-on-one. Bobcats defenseman Loren Barron put a little too much mustard on what should have been a tap-able pass, but Hibbeler was able to put wood on it and fungo it past Girard for the 2-1 edge.

Valek set the evening back to Square One with six minutes to go in the period, beating Hartzell with a garbage goal through a mass of heaving bodies. This strike was also reviewed, but the officials promptly pointed to center ice to indicate a tie game. The game went to its second intermission tied at two following a much more evenly played second stanza in which each team tallied 10 shots. The visitors held an 18-14 overall advantage in that department through 40 minutes of action.

The final frame was punctuated by a brief but animated tussle between Quinnipiac’s Mike Dalhuisen and Blackwell. The Crimson earned two minutes’ advantage on the play, but Hartzell’s quick right toe prevented the hosts from capitalizing on the opportunity as the goalie robbed Daniel Moriarty of a cross-crease one-timer with a big kick at the right post.

“Hartzy was solid. It was tough at first, he didn’t get a lot of shots, but he got some work later,” assessed Pecknold. “He did his job, he held them to two goals, and we’ve got to score more than that to win.”

The deadlock held through the remainder of regulation and both teams picked up the tempo for extra hockey. Both blue and white sweaters earned crowd-stimulating whacks at ending the contest, but the horn came too soon to declare a victor.

Harvard remains at home through next weekend, seeking its first win of the season against archrival Cornell on Friday or Colgate on Saturday. Quinnipiac returns to Hamden, Conn., in advance of visiting Clarkson and St. Lawrence.

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