Eleven Bobcats record a point as QU stings AIC, 8-3


Photo: Liz Flynn

Clever Streich

No. 16 Quinnipiac (5-2-0, 0-0-0 ECAC Hockey) expanded its winning streak to three games Saturday night as they defeated No.19 AIC (5-1-0, 5-0-0 AHC) in dominant fashion, 8-3.

Eleven different Bobcats found the score sheet in the matchup, as eight QU players would turn in impressive multi-point performances to help hand AIC its first loss of the 2020-21 season.

“I thought it was a crazy game,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “A lot of weird things happened. We were pretty fortunate on some good bounces early.”

Quinnipiac would open the scoring up immediately as Ty Smilanic struck 44 seconds into the game, only to be answered by AIC’s Tobias Fladeby 25 seconds later. 

Three minutes later, Quinnipiac’s special teams would begin to shine, as sophomore forward Skyler Brind’Amour would score his first goal of the 2020-21 season on the power play, giving the lead back to QU. 

Photo: Liz Flynn

With five minutes remaining in the first period, Wyatt Bongiovanni found the back of the net off a beautiful pass from senior captain Odeen Tufto to put the Bobcats up 3-1.

Tufto led the team with four assists in the high-scoring victory, notching his 100th career assist in the process, becoming the eighth Bobcat in program history to do so.

“I pass first and I don’t shoot as much,” Tufto said. “My job is to try and set up guys and put them in the best position to score. I feel like over my past three and counting years here there’s been some guys who have done a good job at that.”

In the second period, QU would capitalize on several power play opportunities, including a five-minute major boarding penalty. Power play goals came from the sticks of Zach Metsa, Ethan de Jong and Ty Smilanic to extend Quinnipiac’s lead to a 6-2 margin.  

Ethan de Jong extended his goal streak to four straight games, with each of his four tallies coming from Quinnipiac’s lethal power play unit, which scored five times on the man advantage Saturday night.

“It was one of those games where pucks found a way to get into the net, obviously a big night for the power play,” Pecknold said. “[de Jong] has probably been our best forward so far this year. He’s honest, he makes plays.”

Entering the third period, Quinnipiac seemed in control against the Yellow Jackets until Wyatt Bongiovanni was involved in a scary collision that caused him to leave the ice without putting weight on his leg.

“The real negative of the game was Wyatt getting hurt, it didn’t look good,” Pecknold said. “Little concerned there, hopefully he’s not done for 2-3 months, but we’ll see.”

AIC’s Brett Callahan would score from the blue line to bring QU’s lead down, but a power play goal from Peter DeLiberatore would put AIC’s comeback attempt out of reach.

“It’s good to get the first one under the belt,” DeLiberatore said. “I definitely had some opportunities before, but luckily I did today.”

The Bobcats would cap off their night with Joe O’Connor scoring his first goal of the year late in the third period, defeating AIC in the first game of their back to back series. 

The victory saw another outstanding performance from Bobcat goalie Keith Petruzelli, who shut down AIC’s offense amidst several power play opportunities and breakaway attempts.

Petruzelli, who was recently named the ECAC Hockey Second Star of the Week, made 34 saves on the 37 shots he faced.

As for game two of this home & home series with AIC, Rand Pecknold expects a different energy from the Yellow Jackets on Sunday.

“Tomorrow will be a good test,” Pecknold said. “They’ll be better tomorrow, they’ll be hungry. It’s about having energy tomorrow and having to compete.”

Quinnipiac will hit the road as they face AIC in Springfield, Massachusetts on Sunday night with a 4 p.m. puck drop.