Hamden, CT — Quinnipiac won more games than any other collegiate program from 2012 until 2016. They missed the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons after a consistent run of excellence, including the first sub-.500 season since the Division 1 jump back in 1999. This year, the Bobcats have come back to life behind a return to physical dominance and elite goaltending. Both were on display in an unusual Tuesday night out of conference home matchup with the Holy Cross Crusaders.
The Bobcats outshot Holy Cross 18-1 in the opening frame but only got one goal for their efforts. That came in the back end of the frame when Desi Burgart lasered a shot through Tommy Nixon for a 1-0 lead that held into the intermission. “We try to not focus on being too frustrated and try to focus on doing what we do good,” said Alex Whelan of the First period for Quinnipiac.
Holy Cross won the second period’s opening draw and got some early pressure on Andrew Shortridge, but Quinnipiac landed the first blow of the frame. Alex Whelan whipped a shot home after a Craig Martin faceoff win. Sadly, Shortridge committed his only mistake of he night shortly thereafter. He played a puck behind his net and turned it over to the charging Crusader, Patrick O’Leary. The junior from Norfolk, MA, put the gifted puck in the net for his first career goal and first point of the season.
Rand Pecknold’s team gave their goalie a pick-me-up with some offensive punch. First, William Fallstrom found power play twine after an Anthony Vincent tripping minor. Then, in the closing seconds of the frame, Brandon Fortunato scored his third goal in two games to expand the Bobcat lead to 4-1.
“He was by far the best player on the ice against BU for both teams,” said Rand Pecknold of his senior’s recent offensive outburst. “Really really impressive, and he was the best player on the ice again tonight. He’s on a roll and I wish we were playing this weekend.”
That score held after a third period in which Holy Cross outshot Quinnipiac 18-6 and could not beat Shortridge. The junior from Anchorage, AK, ended the night with 25 saves on 26 shots faced and his tenth win of the season.
Holy Cross drops to 4-15-3 in the year. The Crusaders return to Atlantic Hockey play with a road series against the Sacred Heart Pioneers. Puck drop is slated for 7 pm ET on Friday night, the 25th, and at 2 pm ET on Saturday, the 26th at the Webster Bank Arena, in Bridgeport, CT.
Quinnipiac improves to 18-5-1 on the year. Due to their travel partner, Princeton, sitting for exams this week, the Bobcats have a ten-day break. They resume play on February 1st and 2nd with a trip to North Country. They face the Clarkson Golden Knights on Friday night and the St. Lawrence Saints on Saturday night. Puck drop is slated for 7 pm ET at both Cheel Arena and Appleton Arena.