HAMDEN, Conn. — Matt Peca scored two goals and assisted on another as No. 3 Quinnipiac held on to defeat No. 14 Clarkson 6-3 in a very physical game Friday night at the High Point Solutions Arena.
The offense continued to flow for Quinnipiac (19-4-5, 9-2-3 ECAC), as the Bobcats have now scored at least six goals in four of the last five games, totaling 29 goals in that span.
“Hopefully, we’ll keep it rolling, we’re just finishing our chances,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “We’ve had chances all year long, the puck’s just going in for us right now.”
Despite the offensive outburst, the Bobcats only scored one power-play goal on the night, going 1-for-10 on the man-advantage with 13 shots.
“We got great looks [and] it’s all about getting looks and if you get enough good looks, you’re going to score your goals, [but] sometimes, they’re going to go in and sometimes, they’re not,” Pecknold said. “The first period wasn’t great. I thought we didn’t battle enough, [but] I thought we got better as the game went on.”
Both teams combined for 30 penalties and a total of 71 minutes in the physical affair. Clarkson (16-10-2, 9-5-0 ECAC) recorded nine penalties for 29 minutes in the third period alone, while Quinnipiac tallied six penalties for 12 minutes.
“Our discipline cost us tonight,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “You can’t give a good team like that at home 10 power plays. It takes its toll. Our penalty kill’s very good, but it took its toll on our best players out there a lot killing penalties.”
Connor Jones put the Bobcats up 1-0 just 10 seconds in the game after Kellen Jones stole the puck in the neutral zone and dropped a pass for Connor Jones, where he skated into the left faceoff circle to wrist the puck low blocker side on Clarkson goaltender Ville Runola.
It was the second consecutive game Connor Jones scored a goal 10 seconds or less into a game after he scored eight seconds into last week’s 8-1 win over Dartmouth.
Quinnipiac doubled its lead to 2-0 when Travis St. Denis stole the puck on the end boards and skated toward the goal before passing the puck around his backside to Peca, who jammed the puck past Runola right on the doorstep.
The Golden Knights answered right back to start the second period when Jarrett Burton scored just 28 seconds into the period when he tipped a Paul Geiger slapshot from the point past Quinnipiac goaltender Michael Garteig to cut the Bobcats lead to 2-1.
Allan McPherson tied the game for Clarkson at 2-2 less than a minute later when he dove and swiped the puck past a sprawling Garteig after the initial shot from James de Haas from the point.
“I didn’t think we started very well,” Jones said. “We were lucky to get out of there 2-0 and I actually thought we had them on the ropes in the second. We got momentum going and we had some really good chances to extend it from a 2-2 tie to take the lead.”
Clarkson had two goals reviewed in the second period while Quinnipiac had one goal reviewed, but neither counted.
“I just think we got complacent, which is a problem we have at times,” Pecknold said. “We need to play 60 minutes and I thought the whole second period was atrocious – I thought we were terrible. I wouldn’t say it was the worst period of the year, but it was close. It was bad. We played poorly, lost poise and that’s not how you win championships, so we will have to learn from our mistakes.”
Just after Clarkson’s second disallowed goal, Cory Hibbeler gave the Bobcats a 3-2 lead when Tommy Schutt stopped a shot and passed the puck in the slot to Hibbeler, who fired a shot past Runola’s blocker side.
Peca added his second goal of the game when St. Denis controlled the puck behind the net, passed to Jordan Samuels-Thomas, who found an open Peca to wrist the puck glove side on Runola and make it a 4-2 lead for the Bobcats.
The physical play continued in the third period as Clarkson was able to cut the Quinnipiac lead to one as de Haas wristed a shot from the left point on the power play that flew past Garteig’s glove.
The Golden Knights could not get on the board again as the Bobcats tallied two more goals in the period.
“I thought it was a situation where two teams were battling pretty hard and you know what? It was physical,” Jones said.
Bryce Van Brabant scored the lone power-play goal for the Bobcats with 7:50 left in the third after he corralled the rebound from a Zach Tolkinen shot, bounced the puck off the goalie and scored backhand on his own rebound to make it 5-3 Quinnipiac.
Quinnipiac added one more insurance goal with just 3:40 remaining in the game as Peca skated the puck into the zone where he left the puck sitting in the slot for Kellen Jones, who wristed it high glove side on Runola for the shorthanded goal.
The goal was reviewed, but ultimately stood to give Quinnipiac the 6-3 final.
Runola recorded 30 saves on 36 shots in just his second career game for the Golden Knights, while Garteig finished with 15 saves on 18 shots for the Bobcats.
“[Runola's] worked hard all year and he’s played in two games that he didn’t get a ton of work in and our guys been asking if you’re going to give him another start,” Jones said. “He works real hard in practice, been good in practice and from our perspective, it was an opportunity to see him in a good game to get a real good assessment of him. It was our coaching staff’s decision and my decision, ultimately.”