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College Hockey:
Merriam stops 26 as RPI ties Quinnipiac

— Quinnipiac and RPI skated to a 1-1 tie Friday. For a game with just two goals, it was one heck of a shootout. The Bobcats and Engineers combined to create a symphony with four posts rung over the course of the night.

“From an up and down the ice perspective in the third period of a tie game, that’s as good of a hockey game as I’ve been a part of in a long time,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “It was a really good hockey game.”

Bryce Merriam and Eric Hartzell did their fair share to keep the score knotted at 1-1. Merriam finished with 26 saves, while Hartzell chipped in 24.

“When the game got helter skelter, I thought [Merriam] played with more composure than the rest of the guys on the ice,” Appert said.

While the game was exciting for the fans, Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold was upset with his team’s performance.

“I was just disappointed with our effort. I thought we took a lot of shortcuts … That’s not how we’ve played all year and that [kind of play] does not get you first place in our league.

“Our defensive core was sluggish and lazy … they struggled tonight, all six of them. Then our forwards just didn’t have a forecheck the whole game. On the flip side, we had our chances and [Jeremy] Langlois could have had six or seven goals tonight.”

With the tie, the Bobcats extend their nation’s best unbeaten streak to 15.

RPI took the 1-0 lead 3:19 into the second period on a CJ Lee power-play goal. A shot from the left circle deflected into the slot, where the Bobcats could not clear the puck. Lee picked up the rebound and quickly wristed the second attempt past Hartzell.

Quinnipiac answered back halfway through the middle frame on Jeremy Langlois’ 11th of the year. Matthew Peca dug the puck out of the near corner and centered a feed for Langlois at the right circle. Langlois ripped a shot past Merriam on his blocker side to tie the score at 1-1.

With 4:50 left in the second period, Merriam flashed the glove to keep the score 1-1. Quinnipiac’s Travis St. Denis took a pass at the bottom of the right circle and ripped a shot on net. Merriam stepped to the top of crease, dropped to the butterfly and stuck out his glove to deny St. Denis at the goal mouth.

“I was on the right side of the crease and it was a bouncing puck in the slot,” Merriam said. “[St. Denis] picked it up on his backhand and I saw him curl through the pile to my left. I just put my glove out in front and the puck found it.”

The Bobcats were inches away from taking the lead just minutes into the third period. On a power play, Mike Dalhuisen blasted a shot from the right point. The shot rocketed through traffic and rang off the left pipe and out to the blue line.

“It was great for the fans,” Appert said. “Both teams are good defensive teams, but in the third period for whatever reason things got helter skelter. Both teams had high offensive plays and both goaltenders had to come up with big saves.”

Back and forth play continued late in the third when Milos Bubela rifled a shot off the left post that ricocheted to the top of the left circle. Langlois picked up the puck and was off to the races on a two-on-one with Matthew Peca. Langlois fed Peca, who tapped a pass back to Langlois. Merriam dropped to make the save, leaving the top of the net open for Langlois, who lifted a shot that skied over the top of the net.

“[Merriam] did a good job of sliding over so I had to go top-right corner and I just missed wide,” Langlois said.

Just two minutes later, Jordan Samuels-Thomas jumped off the bench with fresh legs near the end of a long Bobcats’ shift. Samuels-Thomas demanded the puck at center ice, where he quickly entered the zone on the left wing, held and fired a shot that jumped off the far post.

In overtime, the Bobcats had the best chance on a two-on-one. Kellen Jones and Travis St. Denis rushed into the RPI end, where Jones thought about shuffling a pass to St. Denis. By the time Jones decided to shoot, he ran out of room and the RPI defense worked him to the endboards.

“I don’t care who we played tonight … RPI outworked us and they deserved that point tonight,” Pecknold said. “I would have been mad even if we played Boston College tonight because the effort was not where it needed to be. There was no emotion.”

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