NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The nation’s hottest team is still at it.
Quinnipiac ripped off six straight goals to flip an early 2-0 deficit into 6-2 win over Yale in a physical, up-tempo game in front of a packed crowd Saturday night at Ingalls Rink.
The win extended the Bobcats’ NCAA-best unbeaten streak to 19 games and gave them a seven-point lead in the ECAC standings over the Bulldogs. It was the first meeting this season between the in-state rivals, both of whom entered the night among the top-five in the PairWise rankings. Quinnipiac holds on to its top spot, while the Bulldogs slid to seventh.
“If this is a seven versus ten game in our league, I still think it’s a big game,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “It’s a huge rivalry. Beyond the game, it’s a great event at both rinks, which is great for the state of Connecticut. But certainly having two top-five teams in the PairWise adds a little spice to it.”
Ingalls Rink was bursting to the seams with fans and the press seating included an extra table behind the Yale goal to accommodate the media for the game.
“I do not notice the fans; I’m focused on stopping the puck,” said Bobcats’ goalie Eric Hartzell, who finished with 30 saves. “I thought it was a good atmosphere, but I’m focused on stopping the puck.”
Yale (13-6-4, 9-5-1 ECAC) was without starting goaltender Jeff Malcolm, who left Friday’s game against Princeton with an injury. Senior Nick Maricic replaced him and got the win in relief, but was pulled for Connor Wilson at the start of the final period Saturday after allowing four goals on 25 shots.
“I think he’d be the first to tell you can play better,” Yale coach Keith Allain said of Maricic, who made his first start since Dec. 1. “And he will play better.”
Allain did not disclose Malcolm’s injury or how long the senior goalie might be out.
Matthew Peca’s power-play snipe put Quinnipiac (19-3-4, 12-0-2) up 3-2 at 10:13 in the second. The sophomore took a pass from Jeremy Langlois, zipped in and rocketed a shot from the right boards that clanged off the crossbar and into the net.
The Bobcats’ first two goals came on a power-play blast by Mike Dalhuisen at 11:54 in the first and a breakaway by Cory Hibbeler at 18:09. Hibbeler maneuvered the puck through Yale’s Gus Young and Rob O’Gara, snapping a shot that went into the right corner of the net.
Hartzell made several outstanding saves through the second half of the opening period and then into the second, first to keep the Bobcats close, and then helping preserve the lead.
The senior goalie dropped to his pads to deny Kenny Agostino from close in on the left post at 12:49 in the second and then stopped Tommy Fallen’s blast through traffic with a flurry of Yale skaters closing in on the net later in the period.
Ben Arnt’s power-play goal made it 4-2 Bobcats at 15:41 in the second. Jordan Samuels-Thomas skated behind the net and threw a shot on Maricic from the right post that rebounded to Arnt on the opposite side.
Kellen Jones added a shorthanded goal to make it 5-2, jumping on a turnover in the slot and fluttering a shot past Wilson at 12:10 in the third. Zach Davies added Quinnipiac’s final goal at 17:29.
The game had a combined 16 penalties, as Yale started venting some frustration towards the end.
Quinnipiac was 3-for-9 on the power play, while Yale finished 2-for-5 against the Bobcats, who entered the game with the nation’s second- best penalty kill. Six of the eight goals were scored on special teams.
A string of Quinnipiac penalties coupled with a pair of bouncing rebounds allowed Yale to strike on its first two power plays of the game.
Stu Wilson swung around the net and sent a shot bouncing off Hartzell that came out to Trent Ruffolo, who made it 1-0 at 2:53. Wilson added a goal of his own at 6:45, putting home Young’s rebound to make it 2-0.
“We just needed to stay out of the box,” Peca said. “We were a little more disciplined as the game went on. We have a lot of character in that room and we don’t get down from deficits so much.”
Pecknold called a timeout down 2-0 and it was all Quinnipiac for the duration of the night.
“We said a few things,” Pecknold said. “I don’t remember exactly what I said. It was something along the lines of ‘We need to be better and there’s plenty of hockey left.’ And we went to work after that.”