The No. 1 ranked Quinnipiac Bobcats (20-1-6, 11-0-3 ECAC) tied with the...
Quinnipiac sweeps UMass Lowell, Michael Garteig anchors Bobcat defense
By Angelique Fiske, Chief Editor
Quinnipiac hockey alumni – Kevin Bui, Clay Harvey and Eric Hartzell – graced their former home ice and three new banners were raised at High Point before any hockey was played Saturday night.
Despite the hype before the game, the Bobcats (3-1-0) were able to close out the series sweep with a 3-1 victory over the UMass Lowell River Hawks (1-3-0).
Both sides took Friday’s scoreless first period and put it behind them, each getting on the scoreboard early on.
UMass Lowell picked up where it left off just five minutes and 49 seconds into the opening frame. Sophomore Ryan McGrath notched his second goal of the year with a scuffle in front of the net, getting enough on it to slide it by Michael Garteig (Prince George, British Columbia).
It took only a couple of minutes for Quinnipiac to fire right back. Kellen Jones (Montrose, British Columbia) sent a long, cross-ice pass to his brother on the right side of the ice. Connor Jones (Montrose, British Columbia) then got laser shot past River Hawk goalie Doug Carr.
Kellen Jones continued the scoring for Quinnipiac in the middle frame with his first goal of the season. Coming up the right side, he skated past defenders into the UMass zone and laced a one-on-one shot by Carr.
A Michael Fallon crosschecking penalty set the stage for Quinnipiac’s next opportunity. Jordan Samuels-Thomas (West Hartford, Conn.) furthered the gap between the teams with his second power-play goal in as many days. With all five Bobcats in River Hawk territory, passes around the perimeter ended with an uninterrupted shot from Samuels-Thomas. Zach Tolkinen (Lino Lakes, Minn.) and Derek Smith (Apple Valley, Minn.) each picked up an assist.
Despite the offensive consistency from Quinnipiac, head coach Rand Pecknold still thinks there is room for improvement.
“Something that I’ve always known is that if you’ve got some horse that can carry you, and our horses carried us tonight,” Pecknold said. “Connor and Kellen were the second and third best kids on the ice; they were great. Jordan had a good game, but he had the big goal for us and obviously Garteig was huge. While it wasn’t our best effort, our big guys stepped up and did what they needed to do to help us win a hockey game.”
Garteig walked away Saturday with 23 saves, making 44 on the weekend. His 10 saves in the third period made the difference for Quinnipiac, and Pecknold is adamant in saying his “compete level is excellent.”
Despite Hartzell, a former Hobey Baker Award Nominee, making an appearance at High Point Solutions Arena in the pregame ceremony, Garteig saw no added pressure.
“Seeing him in the building tonight gave me a chuckle, you know, the crowd’s chanting his name,” Garteig said.
While to start the game, the packed student section was cheering for its former anchor, by the end, it understood what Garteig had done – help the Bobcats sweep a nationally ranked Hockey East team.
“It’s good motivation for us,” Kellen Jones said. “Just as a team, we need to get better every game and follow our systems and just do the little things and I think we’ll be pretty good.”
The Bobcats will play host again on Tuesday when the Bentley Bulldogs roll into Hamden. The puck drops at 7 p.m.
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Former teammates behind opposing benches at the Frozen Four