Boston, Ma. — The #7 Quinnipiac Bobcats came to Agganis Arena to take on the Boston University Terriers mired in their worst stretch of the season so far, going 1-2-1 in their last four. The Terriers meanwhile have been riding high as of late, coming into the game 4-0-1 in their last five. For Senior Defenseman Brandon Fortunato it was a sort of homecoming. This was Fortunato’s first game back at the school he called home for two seasons.
The Bobcats carried the play for the majority of the opening period. They jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 3:37 when Desi Burgart raced down the right side of the Boston U zone and lobbed a backhanded shot on net that managed to squeeze its way between Terrier goalie Jake Oettinger and the post. Former Terrier Fortunato gave the Bobcats a 2-0 lead at 12:37 with a wrist shot from the left point. His shot beat Oettinger over the shoulder into the top corner of the net.
The Terriers didn’t register a shot on goal for the first 10 minutes of the game. Their luck turned when a Ty Amonte shot towards Quinnipiac goalie Andrew Shortridge bounced off the upper body of line-mate Patrick Harper and into the Bobcat goal. The officials reviewed the goal and the call on the ice stood. However, Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold challenged that Boston U was offsides leading up to the goal. Once again the officials conferred and confirmed that it was a good goal and the Terriers pulled to within one.
Terrier forward Matthew Quercia went to the penalty box for Tripping at 16:14 giving the nation’s 4th ranked Power Play the man advantage. Near the end of the power play, the Bobcats were winding up the rush with a series of back passes. Terrier forward Max Willman anticipated the last one and picked the pocket of Fortunato at the Bobcats blue line and slipped the puck to a streaking Amonte, who put the puck past Shortridge tying the game at 2-2.
Quinnipiac would carry a man advantage into the 2nd period as Amonte was whistled for Holding at 18:55. The Bobcats outshot the Terriers 13-6 for the period.
The Terriers went on the man advantage at 1:26 of the second. Peter DiLiberatore was sent off for cross-checking. The Terriers had a tremendous chance to score on the power play after generating pressure in front of Shortridge. One shot from the point was tipped over the shoulder of the Bobcat goalie. Shortridge then stopped another Terrier shot, Patrick Curry was alone in front for the rebound but Shortridge stonewalled him point blank.
Quinnipiac took a 3-2 lead when Hobey Baker hopeful, defenseman Chase Priskie carried the puck into the Terrier zone on a 3 on 2 rush and fired a pass from the half-wall that Daniel Winslow poked past Oettinger. The 2nd period ended with QU up 3-2 and outshooting the home team 26-17.
Seven fifty-two into the third period the Terriers got the equalizer when Ryan Cloonan looped along the boards and fed Shane Bowers, who blasted the puck from just below the face-off dot past Shortridge glove side. The period was marred by eight penalties, five against Boston U. and three on Quinnipiac. Throughout the various 5 on 4’s and 4 on 4’s the Terriers abundance of talent was never able to solve Shortridge and the Bobcats. A Chad Krys hook on Bobcats forward Joe O’Conner led to an O’Connor penalty shot at 13:27. The resulting O’Conner breakaway was weak and anti-climactic, as he shot right at Oettinger. That save gave the Terriers and the crowd of 3611 momentum.
As the period wound down, the game had the feel of going to overtime. After a QU icing, Terrier coach Albie O’Connell called a time-out at 19:38. The stage was set for some Terrier heroics, but Quinnipiac cleared their zone and had a chance of their own as the final seconds ticked off the clock. Fortunato had the puck in the slot, fed it to Wyatt Bongiovanni on his right, who put the puck through Oettinger’s legs only to have it hit the skate of a Bobcat teammate on the goal line. Fortunato had continued on his path to the Terrier goal and banged home the game-winning goal at the left post at 19:58 of the period. Boston U. outshot Quinnipiac 19-17 for the third but lost the overall battle 43-35.
The Terriers certainly upped their play over the last 20 minutes of action, but the slow start to the game, much like to their season, was too much to overcome in the end. The Bobcats were ecstatic to be heading to the exits with a win on the road and regaining their winning ways.
Coach Rand Pecknold said, “It was a big character win tonight. We talked a lot in the pregame speech and preparing for the game about our character is going to win this hockey game for us.” Pecknold also said of the win “I thought we let BU off the hook a few times, we had them down and out. We let them back in it, but it was a big win for our program.”
His counterpart Albie O’Connell was “disappointed because it was a good opportunity. We rallied and had a good push in the 3rd, but when you play a good hockey team you have to start the game on time. We didn’t.” O’Connell was critical of his team’s consistency. “Our team didn’t play well from the drop of the puck” he said.
As for the game’s Number One Star, Fortunato said “It was just a crucial game for our bunch. Our coaches talked about, in our last five games, we haven’t been too hot. In their last five, they’re 4-0-1, they have a lot of young guys, so they’re turning it on in the 2nd half. To get that win within the last five seconds its a pretty special feeling.”