Connor Jones scored late in the third period to break a 1-1 tie as Quinnipiac extended its unbeaten streak to 17 games with a 2-1 win against Connecticut.
After making his first appearance in the press room last week, Jones joked that he hadn’t made too many trips to a postgame press conference this season. While the junior center did miss a few weeks with an injury, he has a mere nine points on the year and just five goals.
With just six minutes left in regulation UConn’s Sean Ambrosie went to the box for a hook. On the advantage, Jeremy Langlois picked up the loose puck on the far side and wristed a shot on net. Huskies’ goaltender Matt Grogan made the first stop, but Matthew Peca poked the rebound to Jones, who quickly batted it into the open net on the near side.
“It’s been a tough time scoring goals lately,” Jones said smiling. “I’ve been trying to go to net hard and to keep my stick down on the ice. It was a nice play by Peca to keep that rebound going and lucky that it went on my stick. I wasn’t missing that one.”
Despite giving up the late goal, Grogan put on a show stopping 48 of Quinnipiac’s 50 shots.
Six minutes into the third period, Grogan made the save of the evening on Kellen Jones, who had gained speed on the far side and skated toward the net through the right circle. Jones faked the shot, but Grogan held his ground and laid out to stop Jones of the left side.
“[Grogan has] played really, really well for us,” Connecticut coach David Berard said. “He’s put together this string of five to seven games where he’s just done what he’s had to do to help us win. He deserves this opportunity because he’s worked really hard. He’s waited in the wings for the last three years, but it’s not like he’s just been given an opportunity – he’s earned it.”
Quinnipiac took the 1-0 lead 13:20 into the first period on Peca’s seventh goal of the season. Langlois raced through the neutral zone with Clay Harvey on the right side. Langlois dished to Harvey, who fed a trailing Peca, who then blasted a shot into the top right corner.
“The big thing when you are dominating a team like tonight and you aren’t getting the results is that you don’t do too much,” said Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold. “You have to still do the little things well and that’s what makes us a good defensive hockey team.”
UConn answered back in the second period on a highlight-reel goal from Billy Latta. After a deflection at the Huskies’ blue line, Jordan Sims rifled a pass to the neutral zone to Latta, who sped away from the Quinnipiac defense until he was all alone. He deked Eric Hartzell to the left and calmly worked back to the far side where he tipped the puck past Hartzell to tie the score.
“That’s a pretty standard move for me,” Latta said with a chuckle. “It’s pretty much the only move I have. Obviously, I’m fortunate that it worked.”
With the win, the Bobcats extend their unbeaten streak and remain near the top of the national rankings. While the midseason accolades are encouraging for the Bobcats, they know there is a long way to go.
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Connor Jones said. “We are No. 2 right now, but we want to win a championship. We want to get to the national championship, but we are just focusing on what to do next.”