HAMDEN, Conn. — Ben Meisner stopped 39 shots as American International defeated Quinnipiac 2-1 on Tuesday night.
AIC coach Gary Wright said games like this mean a great deal early in the season and that he looks to his goaltender to play a big role this season.
“[Meisner] has played tremendously this year with great composure,” said Wright. “When the game is on the line like it was tonight, I think we have a lot of confidence in him.”
This is the first time in 11 games that the Yellow Jackets have defeated Quinnipiac.
“This is a pretty big deal for us to come down here on any night,” Wright said. “I think our team was obviously really dialed in. For us, [Quinnipiac is] a very good hockey team and that amps everything up from our perspective.”
After a boring first two periods, where AIC’s Chris Porter gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 6:49 of the second period, the action heated up in the third.
Halfway through the final period, the Bobcats almost tied the game on a Jeremy Langlois wraparound attempt. Langlois circled behind the net with the puck on his backhand and poked it behind Meisner. The puck beat Meisner and trickled to the goal line where defenseman Nick Campanale swiped it away.
“I honestly just saw it come free and said, ‘If I don’t get it out, it is going to go in,’ and I just tried to clear it out as fast as I could,” Campanale said, smiling.
“It was unbelievable,” Meisner added. “I had really had no idea where it was. I thought it might be under me, so I tried to stay still. I’ve got to thank the defense for coming up big for me tonight.”
Just minutes later, AIC extended its lead. Richard Leitner brought the puck into the Bobcats’ end on the left wing. Leitner shoveled a pass into the slot where Matt Cassidy one-timed it past Michael Garteig for the 2-0 lead.
“We were fired up,” Campanale said. “Luckily, we got that second goal and that made us feel a lot better and a lot more comfortable.”
Quinnipiac inched back into the game just under two minutes later. The Bobcats won an offensive-zone face off back to Mike Dalhuisen at the left point. His shot made its way through traffic and beat Meisner top shelf.
“I thought we needed to play with a little bit more urgency and I thought we were better late in the game,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said.
The Bobcats nearly tied the game with 3:24 left on a blast from the right circle. Meisner made the stop, but the puck was loose in the slot. As a QU skater finally put it past Meisner, the official blew the whistle to negate the goal.
Quinnipiac was 0-for-5 on the power play and is now 0-for-31 on the season.
“Our power play was bad tonight,” Pecknold said. “A lot of games earlier this year, I didn’t think it was bad and I thought we had a lot of chances. I just thought tonight it was sloppy and sluggish and we did generate some chances tonight, but we should be buzzing around out there.”