Down Early, Quinnipiac Hockey Gets Up Big Time For 6-2 Win Over Yale

NEW HAVEN —

Yale scored one on the power play. Yale scored another one on the power play.

Quinnipiac goalie Eric Hartzell looked up at the scoreboard at Ingalls Rink and he could see the damage. He also could hear the Yalies in this sellout crowd chanting in his ear: "It's all your fault! It's all your fault!"

Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold looked up at that scoreboard, too. Only 6:45 into the first period and it screamed Yale 2, Quinnipiac 0. Yale had a 9-2 shot advantage, too.

"Yale was better than us to that point," Pecknold said after his Bobcats had scored six unanswered goals to rout Yale Saturday night 6-2, in what had to be the biggest regular season college hockey game in state history.

This was the 15th time Quinnipiac and Yale met. The schools already had developed a good ECAC rivalry in recent years. Yet this was the first time both were ranked in the top 10 in the nation.

The Bobcats entered ranked No. 2 team and are sniffing all over that top spot owned by Minnesota. The Bobcats, in fact, are No. 1 in the PairWise rankings, which essentially sets the seedings for the NCAA Tournament.

And with Quinnipiac carrying the longest unbeaten streak into the country into Ingalls, this night had a special edge. Yeah, this one was a heavyweight hockey bout in Connecticut.

The joint was jumping. All 2,800 seats were filled and hundreds of fans pressed against the railings on the concourses. The announced crowd was 3,500 — that's Yale's customary sellout. It looked like at least 4,000 were here. CPTV broadcast the game. Both bands were rocking.

"The atmosphere," Pecknold said, "was electric."

Gov. Dannel Malloy was even in attendance.

"Hey, I love hockey," said the governor, from his seat directly below the press box.

And here was Yale, No. 7 in one national poll and No. 8 in the other, scoring a first-round knockdown. Here was Yale, without its No. 1 goalie, getting one power-play goal from Trent Ruffalo at 2:53 and another off a fortunate bounce by Stu Wilson less than four minutes later. Here was Yale, looking down at Quinnipiac and daring the Bobcats to get up.

Pecknold did exactly what he should have done. He screamed for a timeout.

"Did we have too much emotion? I'm not sure," Pecknold said. "But obviously we took three bad penalties out of the gate. We needed to be smarter than that and we were the rest of the way."

What did he tell his team at that timeout?

"I don't remember exactly what was said. It was more about we need to be better. There's plenty of hockey left and we're a great team and let's go to work. I thought we relaxed after that.

"From the timeout on, I thought we settled down and played a much smarter game. I was really proud of the guys battling back. It was a really good road win. We're obviously thrilled."

Quinnipiac went to work on the power play itself. Mike Dalhuisen, Matthew Peca and Ben Arnt all scored with a man advantage as Quinnipiac took a 4-2 lead through two periods. Yet it was the even-strength goal by Cory Hibbeler that demonstrated the huge advantage Quinnipiac would have on this night. He made goalie Nick Maricic look bad on a long wrister.

Three minutes into Friday night's victory at Ingalls Rink, Yale No. 1 goalie Jeff Malcolm was injured when a Princeton skater rammed into him. Yale coach Keith Allain would not disclose the nature of Malcolm's injury. At any rate, Maricic was able to pull out a 4-2 victory against Princeton, but he only lasted two periods Saturday night before giving way to Connor Wilson in the third.

"I thought it was a pretty even game until the middle of the third period," Allain said. "I think [Maricic] would be the first to tell you that he can play better than that."

"As the game went on we realized he was a little shaky," Peca said.

Meanwhile, Hartzell, a legitimate Hobey Baker candidate, kept getting better as the game went on. He made three stops in the second period when the game still was undecided that showed why he is an NHL prospect. He finished with 30 saves.

Quinnipiac, second in the nation in defense, has not allowed more than two goals in a game since Halloween. That streak looked like it would end here when Pecknold called that timeout. It did not. By the third period, you couldn't even tell they were the same team. Vulnerable early, the Bobcats took it over. They were dominating. Skittish early, they were authoritative by the end.

"Our confidence is excellent," Hartzell said. "There were two unlucky bounces early and the team bounced back."

"I think it was as simple as staying out of the [penalty box]," Peca said. "We don't get down from deficits."

Yale has another chance Feb. 22 at Quinnipiac. That game has long been sold out. The Bulldogs better bring better goaltending if they want another result.

CHICAGO