Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey beats rival Yale at home on Saturday


Photos: Liz Flynn

Max Schreiber

The Battle of Whitney Avenue always gets the blood pumping between two teams that reside eight miles away from each other – but 17 out of the last 18 times this rivalry has titled Quinnipiac’s way.

“It’s been a good run for us,” Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey head coach Rand Pecknold said. “It’s a combination of things. I think most of the time we get fired up, we play well.”

It would be a familiar tale once again as the Bobcats defeated the Yale Bulldogs, 5-0, in Hamden on Saturday, securing a first-round bye for Quinnipiac in the ECAC Hockey playoffs.

The 5-0 score is the largest shutout win by either team in this longstanding rivalry.  Since Yale defeated Quinnipiac in the 2013 NCAA Championship, the Bobcats have only lost once to the Bulldogs (2017). That was also the last time Yale scored a goal in Hamden.

“Tonight, I think the whole game was Keith [Petruzzelli] in the first period,” Pecknold said. “Yale really just pounded us. They were the better team in the first and somehow we’re up 1-0. That’s the game of hockey, every game is different. We’ll focus on right now and we’re happy to get the win and get ready for the playoffs.”

Petruzzelli, who has started every game this season, was brilliant once again between the pipes, stopping 29 shots to record his third shutout of the season.

“Keith has done a good job of maturing as a goaltender, it’s part of his natural maturation process,” Pecknold said. “He’s really learned his depth. When to challenge, when not to challenge, and he’s gotten much better in scramble situations. He’s just kind-of blossoming, and we’re seeing him kind-of pop right now. He’s been great this weekend.”

The Bobcats didn’t register a shot on goal until 11:06 into the first period.  Just over two minutes later, Norwalk, Connecticut, native Nick Jermain put the Bobcats up 1-0. The goal was assisted by Karlis Cukste and Alex Whelan. All three were seniors playing in their final regular-season matchup with Yale.

The tension between these two teams was on full display with 12:53 left in the third period when first-year forward Skyler Brind’Amour was hit behind the back by Yale forward Brett Jewell. Cukste went at Jewell and they were both called for minor penalties. However, Pecknold challenged for a major and the refs changed the call to a major against Jewell.

“The way I saw [the hit] was I thought it was a major,” Pecknold said. “Our video coach called down from upstairs and he was like we need to challenge that because that’s a five, and we challenged it, and it was a five.”

However, that’s not why everyone was talking about Brind’Amour after the game. Shortly after the hit against him, Brind’Amour got his revenge with a spin-o-rama goal to give Quinnipiac a 5-0 lead.

“It’s just something I’ve always kind-of practiced in the summer, working on one-on-one moves,” Brind’Amour said. That was one of them. It kind-of presented itself and I just kind-of did it. I got a little lucky with the fact that it went in.”

“We were standing on the bench and someone was like do something sick,” Senior forward Alex Whelan said.” He just did a spin-o-rama. Everyone was holding each other back.

As the battle of Whitney Avenue ends for seniors like Nick Jermain and Alex Whelan – who had three assists Saturday for the first time – first years like Skylar Brind’Amour are ready to carry on the dominance against Quinnipiac’s fiercest rivals just as they did Saturday night.

“It was unreal,” Brind’Amour said. Obviously I heard a bunch of guys talking about it so I knew it was going to be good. When you go out for warmups and it’s packed in with students, it gets you fired up to play.”

“It never gets old,” Whelan said. Every time we play them whether it’s [Yale] or here, it’s an awesome atmosphere. Our fans are so great.”