HAMDEN, CT. — On Friday night, Quinnipiac scored six goals to defeat the Sacred Heart Pioneers 6-1.
Quinnipiac’s Jeremy Langlois led the way offensively with two goals, while defenseman Loren Barron had a goal and two assists.
“Lately, we’ve been having a tough time scoring goals,” Barron admitted. “So anytime you get a few in a game, it gives you that momentum, especially before Christmas. We want to get that momentum so when we come back after break we can score goals like we are supposed to.”
The Bobcats couldn’t find the back of the net in the first period until the final 1:32, mostly because of the fantastic play of Sacred Heart’s Steven Legatto. Despite allowing six goals, Legatto stopped 34 shots and kept his team in the game in the first 10 minutes.
“He’s a battler,” said Pioneers coach C.J. Marottolo. “He’s giving us everything he has. We don’t protect him well at times. We hang him out to dry in certain situations, but he’s our guy.”
With 4:14 left in the opening period, QU thought they took the 1-0 lead. Langlois stepped into the Pioneers offensive zone on the left wing and dropped the puck off for Matthew Peca at the near point. Peca ripped a shot from the left circle that beat Legatto, but the puck rang off the right post and out. The goal light jumped to life, but the on-ice official immediately waved the goal off. Upon further review, the call on the ice remained no goal.
It took until Quinnipiac’s first power play before the Bobcats were finally able to put one past Legatto. After Ben Arnt’s shot couldn’t be covered by Legatto, Barron snuck his way in front of the net and roofed the rebound for the 1-0 lead with 1:32 remaining in the period.
The Bobcats took the 2-0 lead 89 seconds later on a tipped shot from the blue line. Peca fed Zach Davies at the point, where Davies let loose a rocket. Langlois got a piece of the puck as it rifled through the slot and tipped it off the bottom of the cross bar and in.
Sacred Heart cut the Bobcats lead in half 8:17 into the second period on Will Rayner’s second of the season. Anthony Yelovich created space in the far corner and found Rayner wide open at the point. Rayner took his time and moved into the high slot and beat Quinnipiac’s Dan Clarke glove side.
Quinnipiac answered right back just over a minute later on Langlois’ second of the game. Peca began the play when he grabbed his own rebound on a muscled backhand shot just below the right circle. Peca rounded behind the Pioneers net and found Langlois in the slot, who beat Legatto glove side.
The Pioneers had plenty of opportunities throughout the game on the power play, especially on the two-man advantage. With just over two minutes to play in the second period Quinnipiac’s Clark Harvey and Yuri Bouharevich were sent to the box 15 seconds apart. Despite the advantage, Sacred Heart could only muster a handful of chances.
“We had a chance right off the bat and the puck I think was laying in the crease,” Marottolo said. “We were just too slow. We weren’t moving the puck quick enough. We’re a young team. Four out of the four guys out there were freshmen. I mean those are big moments in games — I thought that was the turning point of the game.”
Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold also noted the importance of the Bobcats’ penalty kill.
“We took too many bad penalties tonight; luckily our three-on-five kill was good. I think we’ve had two, maybe three, three-on-five kills all season long, and tonight we had three. So obviously we need to clean that up.”
The Bobcats extended their lead to 4-1 8:23 into the third period on a power-play goal from Scott Zurevinski. Zurevinski entered the offensive zone on the left wing and faked a shot that forced a SHU defender to drop to one knee. Zurevinski moved around the defenseman into the left circle and buried the shot into the back of the net.
The Bobcats added two more in the final seven minutes, first on Bouharevich’s fourth of the season and then, with 3:04 left, Cory Hibbeler scored short-handed.
Sacred Heart is still in search of its first conference win, but through the struggles Marottolo still sees some positives.
“Their attitude is still great,” Marottolo said proudly. “Their attitude is pretty inspiring, coming to the rink every day smiling and hoping that the next game we can open that lock.”