HAMDEN, Conn. — Bryce Van Brabant’s early third-period goal proved to be enough to propel No. 7 Quinnipiac over No. 4 Union by a 2-1 count Friday night at the High Point Solutions Arena.
According to Bobcats’ coach Rand Pecknold, the win had meaning for his squad.
“Any time you can beat a No. 4 team in the country, it’s a huge win for your program,” Pecknold said. “From an ECAC perspective, it’s two huge points. We’re trying to catch Union, so it was a four-point game. They are a really good hockey team [and] I’m impressed with how they play.”
Quinnipiac (16-3-5, 7-2-3 ECAC) moved past Union (12-4-3, 8-2-0 ECAC) with the win into the top spot in the ECAC standings.
“I just thought they wanted it more than we did tonight and they deserved to win,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “Credit to them, credit to their staff for having their guys ready to go.”
The Dutchmen tied the game 1-1 at the 4:01 mark of the third period when Mark Bennett redirected Jeff Taylor’s shot from the point past Quinnipiac goaltender Michael Garteig for his second goal of the season.
Just 56 seconds later, Van Brabant scored the game-winning goal for the Bobcats as he tipped Alex Barron’s wrister from the point past Union netminder Colin Stevens’ glove side.
“We got good scoring chances all night, we got good looks and probably should have scored a few more,” Pecknold said. “The puck just hasn’t seemed to be going in for us, so it was nice to get that one, but hopefully, we can start finishing a little better than we’ve been finishing.”
Union pulled Stevens for 1:53 of the final two minutes of the game to try and score with a six-on-five advantage, but couldn’t produce a game-tying goal.
“That was a long two minutes, but overall, I trust my defensemen, I trust my team,” Garteig said. “Dan Federico made probably three or four blocks at the end of the game. He’s been pretty big for us all year and no different tonight.”
Garteig stopped 27 shots in the victory for the Bobcats, while Stevens finished with 26 saves for the Dutchmen.
“Colin gave us an absolute chance to have that six-on-five at the end and that’s what we ask of him, what we ask from our goaltenders, and that’s exactly what he did,” Bennett said. “He showed the battle level tonight that I wish we had throughout our lineup.”
Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored the first goal of the game for the Bobcats 6:48 into the second period when he one-timed the shot off the faceoff won by Tim Clifton to give Quinnipiac a 1-0 lead.
Both Quinnipiac goals came off of faceoff wins as they dominated those battles all game long.
“Two faceoff goals, so that says it all,” Rick Bennett said. “Faceoff stats are huge. It’s a one-on-one battle and just a commitment. It’s not only our centermen, it’s our wingers to try to win those little pocket battles and I just didn’t think that compete level was there tonight.”
Quinnipiac finished the game with 48 wins out of the 68 faceoff opportunities.
“We were really good on faceoffs,” Pecknold said. “I didn’t look this week, but I know last week we were No. 1 in the country on faceoffs, so I assume we’re still one. It’s something we focus on that we want to be good at and we talked before the game tonight. We actually changed some of the faceoff plays to try to generate some more offense. I don’t know if those plays particularly worked, but I think it was a big part of the game.”