HAMDEN, Conn. — On Saturday night, the Quinnipiac Bobcats defeated the Dartmouth Big Green, 2-1. Quinnipiac’s Dan Clarke made his first start since December 9, making 32 saves, including a stop on a penalty shot from Mark Goggin. Dartmouth’s Jody O’Neill kept the game close, as he stopped 38 shots.
“Clarke has looked real good in practice,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “He’s been working really hard and really competing. The penalty shot was really the hockey game, and he made some big saves at the end.”
The game’s most exciting action came midway through the second period, as both teams traded quality scoring opportunities. First, the Bobcats squandered two prime scoring chances with O’Neill on his back. After O’Neill made the first stop on the right side, the puck came to the left circle, where Quinnipiac’s Spencer Heichman threw the puck into a wide-open net. Fortunately for the Big Green, Alex Goodship stood tall above O’Neill and blocked the puck away.
That rebound came to the neutral zone at the perfect time, as Goggin was off to the races. As he entered the slot, Quinnipiac’s Zach Davies tripped him from behind to warrant a penalty shot.
Goggin elected for the slow approach as he lazily inched toward the net from center ice. He put the puck on his backhand just above the goal mouth and tried to roof it glove side, but Clarke flashed the leather to make the stop.
“I was just trying to make him make the first move,” Clarke said. “I figured if he was going to come in fast then he was going to try and shoot, but if he came in slow he would make a move. Obviously the slower he came in, the easier it was to make the stop.”
For the second straight night the Bobcats jumped on the board early. Just 2:11 into the first period, Connor Jones won the faceoff back to Davies at the left point. Davies’ shot ricocheted off the bottom of the right post and behind the net. The puck bounced off the end boards to Jones at the right circle. Jones collected the rebound and beat O’Neill low stick side for the 1-0 lead.
The Bobcats took the 2-0 lead 4:58 later on a power-play goal from Ben Arnt. O’Neill made the initial save on Davies’ shot from the left point. O’Neill stopped Yuri Bouharevich’s rebound attempt, but a third rebound came to the stick of Arnt on the right side of the net. Arnt quickly fired the loose puck into the gaping net.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Arnt said with a smile. “It was kind of a lucky one, but I’ll take it.”
Two minutes into the second period, Dartmouth’s Brandon McNally came inches away from cutting into the Bobcats lead. McNally gained the line on the right wing and ripped a wrister from the right circle that rang off the right post and behind the net.
O’Neill kept Dartmouth in the game just minutes before the penalty on another chance from Connor Jones. After Matthew Peca was laid out in the neutral zone, Jones picked up the puck on the left wing. Jones moved in on O’Neill and tried to sneak the puck five-hole, but O’Neill shifted his body and poked out his left leg to deny the chance.
“I thought we played hard,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “I thought we battled hard, but we lost a defenseman early to a stick check so that sort of hurt our continuity back there, but I thought our guys still really battled.”
With 6:18 left in the third, Dartmouth finally got on the board. Taylor Boldt connected with Jesse Beamish at the point. Beamish’s drive sailed about waist high through the slot, where Eric Robinson tipped the puck through Clarke’s pads.
With 1:18 left in regulation, Dartmouth pulled O’Neill for the extra attacker. The Big Green ripped off a number of shots with plenty of traffic in front of the goal, but couldn’t slip one by Clarke.
“We looked like we had a couple of really good shots that got through, and we had some really good traffic, but [Clarke] made some nice saves and we couldn’t get to the rebounds,” Gaudet said.
Both teams have six games remaining in the regular season, with Quinnipiac stationed in sixth place in the ECAC and Dartmouth just one point back in seventh.