In a weekend filled with penalties, shorthanded goals and rowdy Quinnipiac fans, the men’s hockey team split contests against Quinnipiac and Princeton in their highest-scoring campaign of the season.
After enduring a painful 6-4 loss to the No. 18 Bobcats (13-9-5, 9-4-4 ECACHL) in their first-ever trip to Hamden, the Elis (9-11-3, 6-9-1) came back with a vengeance Saturday night and dominated the Tigers (9-11-3, 6-8-2), 6-3, at Ingalls. The win helped the Elis regain some confidence and get back on track as they hit the road to face talented foes No. 17 St. Lawrence and No. 8 Clarkson next weekend.
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Facing a sold-out and mildly profane crowd at Quinnipiac’s brand-new TD Banknorth Sports Center on Friday night, the Bulldogs skated neck and neck with the Bobcats for the first two periods, despite the fact that the Bobcats had nearly three times as many chances on the net. Forward Sean Backman ’10 had both Eli goals in the back-and-forth battle that resulted in a 2-2 tie at the end of the second period.
Things began to unravel for the Elis in the third stanza. Several costly penalties allowed the Bobcats to jump out to a 4-2 lead in the first 10 minutes, despite the efforts of the Bulldog penalty kill. The Elis answered back with a shorthanded goal 52 seconds later, as Backman converted a deflected shot by teammate Mark Arcobello ’10 into his third goal of the night. But Quinnipiac would not give up the lead, as sophomore David Marshall, who has six goals in four contests against Yale, grabbed his second of the night on a power play at 12:27 to give the Bobcats a 5-3 advantage.
Not surprisingly, the final minute of the game was as exciting as the rest of the contest. Head coach Keith Allain ’80 pulled Richards to get an extra skater, but the Bobcats took advantage of the empty net and tallied a sixth goal with 40 seconds remaining. The Elis had one final offensive surge, and a buzzer shot in the last second of the game by Chris Cahill ’10 snuck past the Bobcat goalie to make it 6-4.
“I thought the whole game we were undisciplined,” Allain said. “It just caught up with us in the third period. At some point they have to realize that winning is more important than sitting in the penalty box.”
Penalties certainly gave an edge to the Bobcats, who outshot the Elis 41-16. The Bulldogs, no strangers to the penalty box, played shorthanded for 38 minutes of the game, their third-highest outing of the season. The Bobcats had 25 attempts with the extra skater and converted four of their 12 man advantages into goals.
One of the few bright spots of the contest was the superb play of Alec Richards ’09. While Quinnipiac goalie Bud Fisher needed just 12 saves to get the win, Richards was kept busy on the other end of the ice with 35 stops. He allowed just one even-strength goal the entire night and managed to survive several minutes of five-on-three power play.
Even Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold acknowledged that Richards made it difficult for the Bobcat skaters.
“Richards had a great game,” he said. “He played really well. We were lucky to get some goals on power plays.”
But Saturday was a different story for the Elis, who leapt back into ninth place with a 6-3 win over Princeton. The squad raced to a 4-0 lead in the first two periods and never looked back.
“The loss [to Quinnipiac] was pretty tough,” forward David Germain ’08 said. “Against Princeton, we came out and played like we did at the beginning of the season. There’s not one line that didn’t play well.”
The Bulldogs clearly dominated the first 40 minutes of the game, outshooting the Tigers, 27-12, and containing them on all six power play opportunities while converting two of their own. Four different Elis — Backman, Will Engasser ’08, Brad Mills ’07 and Arcobello — had goals through the first two periods.
But the game became less lopsided in the third when Princeton finally managed to generate some offense. Desperately trying to get a goal, Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky pulled goalie B.J. Sklapsky to get an extra skater at 5:07. Sklapsky was subsequently called off the ice three more times and spent a total of five minutes on the bench. Although this tactic helped the Tigers make it 4-1, it backfired a few minutes later as Backman raced across the ice to bury the puck in the empty net for his fifth goal of the weekend. Arcobello added another power play goal to make it 6-1 before Princeton’s final offensive surge in the 57th minute of the game, when the Tigers snuck the puck past goalie Matt Modelski ’07 on two consecutive power plays.
Modelski, the senior from Brighton, Mich., could not have had a better night for his first start of the season. He had an impressive 32 stops, including 23 in a difficult third period, and did not allow the Tigers a single even-strength goal. The squad rallied around Modelski and his presence between the pipes may have helped make the difference after the squad’s performance at Quinnipiac, Allain said.
“We want to take our confidence from this weekend and build it up in the next few weeks,” Germain said. “Hopefully we can carry the momentum of the win into next weekend and the playoffs.”