HAMDEN, Conn. — Quinnipiac’s second line of Bryce Van Brabant, Jordan Samuels-Thomas and Cory Hibbeler enjoyed a successful night as each scored a goal in the Bobcats’ 3-1 win over Dartmouth Saturday night at the High Point Solutions Arena.
Even after the win, QU coach Rand Pecknold was quick to note that his squad is far from showcasing a peak performance.
“I still don’t think it was as good of hockey as we’ve been playing [because] we didn’t generate the forecheck and didn’t generate pucks on net,” Pecknold said. “I thought we were getting too cute in a lot of scoring situations and trying to make the fancy play instead of putting pucks on net and trying to generate rebound goals.”
Alex Barron was a key facilitator as he assisted all three goals in the win for Quinnipiac (11-1-1, 5-0-1 ECAC).
“[Alex] has been playing really well, he’s really taken a jump from last year,” Pecknold said. “I think all of his assists were just simple, easy plays and that’s all we’re asking him to do. I think that’s where Alex has really matured as a hockey player – he’s making that easy play. He was really good offensively, but I think he was great defensively, too.”
Dartmouth (0-8-0, 0-6-0 ECAC) continued its early-season struggles as the Big Green dropped their eighth straight game to start the season.
“I think this weekend we deserved a better fate,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “I think we’re making strides and they’re playing hard, it’s just one of those breaks. Last night, we got a bad break, but I just think we’re working really hard and we’ll earn some as we go along.”
Quinnipiac jumped out to an early 1-0 lead over Dartmouth when Hibbeler’s pass to Van Brabant deflected off two defenders before Van Brabant controlled in the slot and wristed it over the glove of Dartmouth goaltender Cab Morris.
Hibbeler added to the Bobcats’ lead on a three-on-one breakout 3:59 into the second period when he skated up the right boards with the puck and wristed a shot five-hole on Morris to make it 2-0.
“The goal was huge, but I think the blocks were even bigger,” Pecknold said. “He had one block where he came out of nowhere to come across and he kneed a puck, it hurts. It hurts to block shots and he does that. That’s part of our success and part of our culture, that’s why he’s a great captain.”
After a Nick Bligh cross-checking penalty, Samuels-Thomas one-timed a power-play goal to make it 3-0 Quinnipiac after Dan Federico passed the puck to Barron across the blue line, who found Samuels-Thomas wide-open just above the right faceoff dot to put home the goal.
Despite the three goals allowed, Morris stopped 26 shots and kept the Big Green close.
“I think that Cab had a solid game,” Gaudet said. “I can’t fault the kid on the power play – it’s just in that corner of the crossbar post and the first one was a bounce, and the second one was a good one.”
The Big Green got one goal back with 2:27 remaining in the second period when Tim O’Brien had a one-on-one breakaway against Michael Garteig and wristed the shot low past Garteig on the blocker side to make it 3-1.
Neither team could break through in the third period despite Quinnipiac outshooting Dartmouth 12-3.
“We came back today and played obviously a very good Quinnipiac team and I thought our guys battled hard,” said Gaudet. “It’s a couple breaks in the game that could turn it. The energy’s there, the emotion’s there, the effort’s there. I feel for our guys because they’re working really hard.”