Quinnipiac Men’s Hockey Plays to 4-4 Tie in Exhibition Opener


Photo credit: Liz Flynn

David Maher

The eighth-ranked hockey team in America, the Quinnipiac Bobcats, opened up their 2019-2020 campaign against Brock University in a preseason game on Sunday in Hamden. The Bobcats got two goals in the third period, including the tying goal from William Fallstrom to even the game at four.

But despite controlling most of overtime, the Bobcats could not find the winner and skated to a 4-4 tie. The Bobcats shot a lot of pucks on net, including 27 in the second period, to dominate the shot statistic 57-23 and still left the People’s United Center without a victory.

The teams combined for 17 penalties in regulation time with the Badgers accounting for 11 of those. The Bobcats struggled on the man advantage, going just 2/11 on the power play including 0/2 while on a five-on-three. The Badgers were 0/6 on their power plays in the game.

Both teams also were called for one major penalty each. In the third period, Brock defenseman Jordan Sambrook boarded Quinnipiac forward and captain Nick Jermain. Following the hit, Desi Burgart cross-checked Sambrook multiple times in the back. Both players were ejected and given five-minute majors.

“I thought it was a crazy game tonight,” Quinnipiac Head Coach Rand Pecknold said after the game. “We were immature at times. I thought Brock did a good job of jumping on us. It’s one of those crazy games that you look and the shots are 37-9 and we’re down 3-1. It doesn’t happen often but it happens once in a while. We did a good job at finding a way to tie the game late, the penalty kill was great, and Evan Fear was great for his first college action.”

The scoring started in the first period. Both teams traded excellent scoring chances but the Badgers drew first blood. Five minutes into the first period, Brock forward Tyler Rollo fired a shot from the right side of the Quinnipiac zone that found its way through the pads of Keith Petruzelli to put the Badgers up 1-0.

Quinnipiac responded with a power-play goal late in the period. Brock forward Justin Brack was called for slashing with 1:02 left in the first period and the Bobcats would take advantage of the penalty. After a shot was stopped by Badger goaltender Mario Cavaliere, Ethan de Jong took the rebound and dished it to Peter DiLiberatore at the point. DiLiberatore passed it to the right side to Wyatt Bongiovanni who blasted it into the net with 17 seconds left in the period. Both teams headed to the intermission with the game tied at one.

Despite being outshot 27-5 in the entire second period, Brock made its shots count. Three minutes into the period, defenseman Matthew Price-Barnes broke free of the defense and scored on a breakaway and squeaked one past the short side of Petruzelli to put Brock up 2-1. Later in the period, Cavaliere would be replaced by backup Jacob Hutchins who made some impressive saves to keep the lead.

The Badgers added to the lead as Lollo came in on a rush and shoot one that was stopped by Petruzelli. But the rebound bounced right to Brayden Stortz who deposited the loose change and put Brock up 3-1 with six minutes left in the period.

The Bobcats wouldn’t go away and capitalized on another Brock penalty late in the period. Badger defenseman Johnny Schaefer was called for hooking with four minutes left in the second. On a rush, Alex Whelan dished the puck over to Karlis Cukste at the point and he ripped it into the cage to cut the lead to one with three minutes left in the period.

Brock responded before the period closed.  After numerous penalties were called on both teams leading to a three on three, Sambrook took a pass on the right side of the Bobcat zone and shot it over the glove of Petruzelli. The Badgers entered the third period with a 4-2 lead.

Petruzelli was replaced at the start of the third period by true freshman Evan Fear. Fear’s play did not disappoint. The Badgers started the third period on a five-on-three advantage and came out firing. Fear made some impressive saves to keep it a two-goal game, including robbing a point-blank chance on an odd-man rush early in the third. Fear finished the night with ten total saves in the tie. Petruzelli played well, making nine saves on 13 shots in the game.

“He looked good,” Jermain said. “It’s not easy coming in after two periods but he looked confident and made some key saves. I’m sure we’ll need him at some point this year and thought he did well.”

The Bobcats’ comeback started five minutes into the third period and it came on what could be a Top Ten play on SportsCenter Monday morning. Cukste controlled the puck in the left corner of the Badger zone and took a shot that was initially stopped by Hutchins. The rebound was batted out of the air by Jermain. Jermain batted the puck with his stick without looking and it goes into the net to cut the Badger lead in half. The Bobcats trailed 4-3 almost five minutes into the third.

“I didn’t see the replay yet,” Jermain said. “I don’t even know what happened. I just kinda whacked at it. I’ll see what happened tomorrow.”

The comeback was complete in the last minute of the game. With Fear pulled for an extra attacker, the Bobcats controlled the puck in the offensive zone. Bongiovanni set up the game tying goal by controlling the puck at the left point. Bongiovanni would pass it over to the middle to defenseman Zach Metsa. Metsa blasted it towards the net where it was deflected by Fallstrom. The tip of Fallstrom’s stick was just enough to put it past Hutchins and tie the game at four with 12 seconds left to go in regulation

In the overtime period, both teams had quality opportunities to find a winner. Whelan had a great chance to win the game for the Bobcats but the puck bounced over his stick before he could put it into a wide-open net. The Badgers also had an odd-man rush where Fear made a critical save on a three on one chance. Unfortunately for both teams, the winner couldn’t be found and the game ended with a 4-4 draw.

“I think everything needs to be improved on,” Pecknold said. “It was chaos. We had guys on the power play doing way too much going rogue and out of control. We’ll settle our young guys down. The PK was good. They made some mistakes but it’s an early season. It’s good to have an exhibition game to work out the kinks out and get ready for Friday.”

The Bobcats take on the reigning Atlantic Hockey champions, the AIC Yellow Jackets, Friday night at the People’s United Center in Hamden in the first of a home-and-home series. The Bobcats won both games against AIC last year, winning by a combined score of 13-3. Puck drop between the Bobcats and Jackets is at 7 p.m.