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Bobcat Bullets: Men’s ice hockey to finish two-game series with UMass Lowell
Bobcat fans have longed to hear it: the men’s ice hockey team is coming home.
After a long offseason, a trip to Alaska and another to Lowell, Mass., No. 14 Quinnipiac returns to High Point Solutions Arena Saturday night to finish off its two-game series with No. 9 UMass Lowell.
The series kicked off Friday night in Massachusetts, and the Bobcats came out on top, winning 3-1. Scoring took off for Quinnipiac in the middle frame, as Jordan Samuels-Thomas (West Hartford, Conn.), Connor Jones (Montrose, British Columbia) and Derek Smith (Apple Valley, Minn.) notched all three goals in the second period.
As the Bobcats return home, the team looks different from the last time it took the ice in Hamden. Eric Hartzell will no longer man the pipes, giving way to Michael Garteig (Prince George, British Columbia). Freshman faces like Connor Clifton (Matawan, N.J.) and Peter Quenneville (Edmonton, Alberta) fill the holes left from graduation.
As they get adjusted into new roles, seasoned veterans roll with the changes to better the team.
“They’re switching things up, but whatever’s best for the team and whatever helps the team win,” Jones said. “The game is not very much fun when you’re losing, so whatever’s best for the team we’re happy about, and we’ll figure it out either way.”
Keys for UMass
Do not wait to be aggressive. With only four shots taken in the first period, the Hawks handicapped themselves against a strong Bobcat offense. As the game progressed, UMass matched and eventually outshot Quinnipiac, but in order to shock the Bobcats, they must be aggressive as soon as the puck drops.
Take advantage of Quinnipiac penalties. The Bobcats racked up a whopping 10 penalties Friday night, and the Hawks failed to convert on any power plays. When a team presents opportunities, UMass needs to pounce.
Keys for Quinnipiac
Play the whole 60 minutes. Friday’s game saw quick offense action, but none that was spread out. UMass was one game away from making to the national championships last season, so one strong period will not be enough to hold them for more than one game.
Use the crowd. The Quinnipiac student section sold out, and after last season’s run, Bobcat fans are fired up for the home opener. With the brand new scoreboards adding to the atmosphere, the hope is that of Field of Dreams: If you build it, they will come. Jones, while admitting that the crowd adds to how the team plays, knows it is a two-way relationship.
“If you’re winning and playing well, you’re going to get that,” he said. If you’re not doing well, it doesn’t matter what the clock looks like.”
The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. Saturday night. Be sure to tune into theqbsn.com if you cannot make it to the game.