HAMDEN, Conn. — No. 1 Quinnipiac scored three first period goals en route to a 4-1 win over No. 13 Yale Friday night. The High Point Solutions Arena was filled with a capacity crowd of 4,074, while the rest of the nation tuned in on the NBC Sports Network.
“I always say that I don’t refer to it as a game, I refer to it as an event,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said about the home game against rival Yale. “It was just a great crowd with an electric atmosphere, and that is why we built this rink, to get something like this tonight.”
In their last meeting, the Bobcats scored six unanswered goals to come back to beat the Bulldogs at Ingalls rink on Feb. 2. After starting Nick Maricic earlier in the season against the Bobcats, Yale coach Keith Allain elected to go with sophomore Connor Wilson.
“I thought Wilson played a good game last week against RPI, and I thought he had a good weekend in practice,” Allain said.
The Bulldogs have been forced to try and find the right goaltending combination after Jeff Malcolm was injured on Feb. 1. Since that 4-2 win against Princeton, the Bulldogs have lost five straight without their starting goaltender.
“I think we are just in a funk right now, and we aren’t playing as well as we need to play,” Allain said. “You earn results, and right now, that is why we aren’t getting results.”
Quinnipiac leapt out to a 1-0 lead just 3:03 into the first period. Connor Jones fed Matthew Peca at the top of the right circle. After weighing his options, Peca decided to wrist a shot through traffic and beat Wilson for the early lead.
“I thought we did a good job controlling our emotions tonight,” Peca said. “You don’t want to get too high in games like these, because you start doing too much, and we knew what was at stake and how the [atmosphere] was going to be.”
The Bobcats added a bookend to the opening period with a pair of goals with under four minutes to play. Kellen Jones stole the puck at the right point and walked in on a three-on-one. Instead of passing the puck, Jones used patience to find his spot and bury the puck past Wilson for the 2-0 lead.
Just 48 seconds later, Travis St. Denis made it 3-0 on a sloppy defensive effort from the Bulldogs. Loren Barron gained control of the puck at the top of the slot and as he slipped to the ice, he wristed a soft shot on net. Wilson could not control the rebound, as Connor Jones swiped at the loose puck until it trickled to St. Denis on the right side. St. Denis quickly batted the puck into the back of the net for the early three-goal lead.
“We jumped them and it was nice to go up 3-0,” Pecknold said. “I give Yale credit, though. They did a nice job in the second and third period and they didn’t quit.”
Allain saw enough of Wilson and eventually replaced him with Maricic for the final 40 minutes. The move paid off, as Maricic finished the night 23 saves over two periods, including a stunning save on Kellen Jones in the final seconds of the middle frame.
After Yale’s Kenny Agostino fanned on a breakaway shot, the Bobcats flew up ice in transition. Jones received a pass at the blue line and raced in alone on Maricic. Jones put the puck on his backhand and lifted the shot toward the top-right corner of the net. Maricic swiftly shifted to the right side and flashed his glove to keep it a 3-0 game.
The Bulldogs made it interesting the third period when Agostino finally put one past Eric Hartzell just 1:51 in. Jesse Root backhanded the puck on net, where Hartzell made the initial stop, but the Bobcats’ goaltender could not cover the rebound. Agostino jumped the puck and knocked it behind Hartzell to get within two goals.
QU’s Connor Jones added an empty-net goal with 35 seconds left to seal the win.