January 8, 2014

College Wraparound: Dark days at Bright Center for QU

By Joshua Kummins

Kellen Jones scored his 12th goal of the season Tuesday, but the Bobcats settled for a 2-2 tie at Harvard. (Photo: Quinnipiac Athletics)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Entering Tuesday night’s ECAC Hockey contest, the Bright-Landry Hockey Center had been a house of horrors for the No. 7 Quinnipiac University Bobcats (15-3-5, 6-2-3).

This contest marked the 21st all-time meeting between the Bobcats and Crimson, and the 12th in Cambridge. Quinnipiac had won just two of their 11 games at the Bright Center and still don’t have a road victory over the rival Crimson since Dec. 2010.

Harvard freshman and New Jersey Devils prospect Alexander Kerfoot scored the equalizing goal with just 49 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the home team to a 2-2 stalemate in front of 1,761 fans.

“It was a tough start for us,” Kerfoot said. “But we battled back and we found a way to squeak out a point there. Everyone’s revved up for those (concluding) minutes and they want to get out on the ice. Here at home, we want to get the win for our fans, so it was a good time (to make a comeback).”

Harvard becomes just the third team to take any ECAC league points from a game against the Bobcats this season, joining Princeton and Union after they each picked up victories in the last eight games.

Despite taking a lead, 20th-year Bobcat skipper Rand Pecknold (Bedford, N.H.) saw a lot of room for improvement in his team over the course of the night. “I thought we could have played better. We didn’t play hard in front of the net, we didn’t stop pucks, we lost battles. We’re a better hockey team than we showed tonight.”

The Bobcats got off to a fast start as freshman Sam Anas and senior Kellen Jones – two members of their dynamic top trio – connected for a 1-0 lead at the 7:33 mark. Anas started up the play in the defensive zone, twisting through a couple defenders and passing to Kellen for a sweet wrister in the middle of the slot for his 12th goal of the campaign.

The top unit, which also features Kellen’s twin brother Connor, makes QU one of just six Division 1 teams – including fellow New England foes Boston College, New Hampshire and Northeastern – to feature three players with 20-plus points thus far on the season.

Losing a lead is something that the visiting Bobcats do not do very often as they entered the night with a 7-0-1 record when leading after 20 minutes, but Harvard sophomore Kyle Criscuolo seriously jeopardized that mark 12:22 into the second period with a snap shot from between the circles.

“I thought we were stuck in mud a bit in the first period,” Crimson head coach Ted Donato (Boston, Mass.) said. “In the second and third, I thought we played better. I thought we got the game going a bit up-and-down, started to hold onto some pucks in their own zone. … I don’t think it was a pretty game, but from our standpoint, I think there’s a lot to be gained.”

The Bobcats jumped back ahead by a 2-1 score just 2:40 into the third period as rookie Connor Clifton found junior Matthew Peca in stride for an upstairs wrist shot in the middle of the faceoff dot for his first goal in four games and fifth of the season.

Senior Raphael Girard, who has been one of the nation’s elite goaltenders from the outset of the Ivy League season, started off strong with 21 of his 29 saves over the first 40 minutes.

“I thought he came up with some big saves,” Donato said. “I don’t think he had a done of high-end quality chances that he faced, but the ones he did, he made some big saves on. I think he was a lot like our team, really battled and I thought our guys felt confident in front of him.”

To knot the score and break the Bobcats’ modest three-game unbeaten streak, Kerfoot was able to find the ultimate rebound in front of QU sophomore goalie Michael Garteig (20 saves).

The tie, coupled with Harvard’s Saturday victory over crosstown rival Boston University, gives the Crimson much momentum heading into this coming Saturday’s highly-anticipated “Rivalry on Ice” battle with defending national champion and tenth-ranked Yale in New York City.

“It’s a big eight days for us, playing BU, Quinnipiac and Yale, but it’s such an exciting game,” Donato said. “There are some good signs and now our attention will go to Madison Square Garden and Yale. I think everyone is pretty excited about it.” 

Northeastern 2, Providence 1 (OT)

The 16th-ranked Huskies (12-6-3, 5-4-1 Hockey East) faced a 1-0 deficit in the final minute, but senior Braden Pimm scored once with 33 seconds left in regulation and again 12 seconds into overtime to down the No. 6 Providence Friars (13-4-4, 6-3-1) for an impressive league victory at Schneider Arena. Junior Clay Witt made 38 saves as PC junior Ross Mauermann’s shot 7:57 into the first was the lone that beat him on the night. In his first game since returning from the IIHF World Junior Championship, second-year Friar Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine) made 27 saves but fell for just the second time.

Vermont 4, St. Lawrence 2

Hostile Appleton Arena in Canton, N.Y., did not stop the No. 18 Catamounts (11-6-3) from extending a four-game unbeaten streak a notch further as four players scored goals to hand the Saints (8-10-2) their fifth consecutive loss. Sophomore Brody Hoffman made 22 saves, while junior blue liner Nick Luukko scored the game-winner and added an assist for UVM. For the home-standing Saints, it was a solid 30-save night between the pipes for sophomore Kyle MacDonald (Hanover, Mass.) but the former Xaverian Hawk has still yet to record a collegiate win in five appearances. 

Twitter: @JoshuaKummins
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