Bobcats battle back, take game vs. AIC on the road


Photos: Emma Robertson

Andrew Meyers

The story of the Quinnipiac men’s hockey team this season is youth. With 15 underclassmen in the lineup on Saturday night, it was some of those underclassmen who stepped up to lead the Bobcats to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the AIC Yellow Jackets.

Freshman Skyler Brind’Amour netted the game-winner with less than a minute to go in the second period, the first goal of his collegiate career. Odeen Tufto carried the puck into the offensive zone, then laid it off to Zach Metsa at the blue line, who found Brind’Amour waiting at the doorstep to slot home Quinnipiac’s third goal.

“It was an awesome play by [Metsa],” Brind’Amour said of the set-up. “He made a great read and I was there to tap it in. It was a big goal for us and obviously an exciting moment for me.”

Quinnipiac did not get off to the cleanest start in its first road test of the season. AIC jumped out to an early two-goal lead just five minutes into the contest. Yellow Jackets sophomore Jan Stefka came away with the puck after a scrum in front of the Quinnipiac net and buried it past Keith Petruzzelli to give AIC the lead.

Redshirt-sophomore Luka Maver then put away a Janis Jaks pass on the power play two minutes later to give the Yellow Jackets a 2-0 lead.

“We were a little flat at the start,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “They’re a well-coached team and they jumped on us early.”

The slow start continued and nearly resulted in a third goal for AIC early on. Petruzzelli lost sight of the puck in the offensive zone, but it scattered across the crease behind him and was cleared by the Bobcats to avoid further damage.

Quinnipiac showed its resiliency after that, as the offense picked up steam and finally got on the scoreboard with three minutes left in the first period. Sophomore Desi Burgart intercepted a pass in the offensive zone, then went bar-down to put the Bobcats on the board.

The Bobcats picked up right where they left off in the second period, with sophomore Wyatt Bongiovanni scoring his first goal of the 2019-20 campaign to even the score at two. Tufto was involved again, as he drove in past the blue line before lofting a pass to Bongiovanni who beat Yellow Jackets goalie Zackarias Skog glove-side.

Photos: Emma Robertson

AIC tried to answer after Quinnipiac gifted them with two power plays in the middle of the second period, but the Bobcats staved off both man advantages to keep the score tied before Brind’Amour scored the game-winner.

Petruzzelli was credited with 27 saves on the night, bouncing back very well after a rusty start.

“You have to be resilient to win hockey games,” Pecknold said. “I thought we turned everything around in the second period. We started to win some battles and found ways to score.”

Last season the Bobcats had a 6-7 record in the second game of back-to-backs. They start this season with a two-day sweep against AIC.

Quinnipiac gets a week to prepare for its next matchup, another Friday-Saturday back-to-back against Maine. Both games will be played at Frank J. Perrotti Arena in Hamden.