Oliver Chau nets first career hat trick as #5 Quinnipiac rallies past Arizona State, 5-2


Photos: Aidan Sheedy

Ben Upson

When you go to search the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team online, the word resiliency might just show up right next to their team description. After a scintillating 5-3 victory on Friday night, they were in search of one more on Saturday in another round with the Arizona State Sun Devils. They got another one, beating the Sun Devils 5-2.

The Sun Devils jumped out ahead on the board first, much like Friday’s matchup, at the 5:47 mark of the first period. Sophomore forward Ryan O’Reilly fired one in through traffic as it snuck by Quinnipiac goaltender Dylan St. Cyr from just inside the blue line on the team’s first shot of the night. The Bobcats were forced to work out of another early deficit.

Quinnipiac once again did not fold after surrendering the early lead. The Bobcats responded with three goals in the second period, including two within a 1:13 span near the intermission break. They immediately took a 1-0 deficit and launched ahead to a 3-1 lead.

One of the offensive pioneers for the Bobcats was graduate transfer Oliver Chau. He recorded his first career hat trick during Saturday’s game, including a dribbler that found the empty net in the final minute of the game. Chau has accounted for five goals and four assists with Quinnipiac since transferring over from UMass.

Coach Rand Pecknold spoke about Chau’s presence on the team and what he brings to the table each game. 

“He’s a great two way hockey player,” Pecknold said. “He makes plays, scores goals, excellent defensively and can kill penalties…he’s a great leader in our room… and A+ kid.”

Chau reflected on his first career hat trick.

“The first one came right to my stick…second one, I thought I made a good shot, unlucky with the cross bar and super lucky to go off the guy and go in,” said Chau. “I’m just grateful.”

Arizona State cut the deficit to 3-2 in the opening minute of the third period when sophomore defenseman Tim Lovell was able to tap one in with an open net on the left side. It was put away when Chau scored two of his three goals down the stretch to secure the sweep for the Bobcats.

A highlight of the night was the success of the Bobcats power play, a unit that has struggled consistently this season, with just four goals scored over a span of 11 games on the man advantage. They were able to overcome those challenges with a pair of power play goals scored during the second period, from senior forward Michael Lombardi and Chau.

Pecknold discussed the impact of developing chances in front for the power play to finally start clicking for the team.

“The puck’s finally going to the net for us, we’ve had a lot of good looks this year, just can’t buy a break on the power play, but we got a couple tonight,” said Pecknold. 

It’s an encouraging sign for the Bobcats to start building off those power play opportunities and finishing on strong offensive attacks.

One of the keys for the Bobcats this entire weekend was on the other side of the puck, killing off the impressive Arizona State power play, one that ranks second in the country. They were able to stop that unit twice in Saturday’s game, during both the first and second periods to stay in the game and work their way back from the early deficit.

Quinnipiac tallied an impressive 53 shots on goal on the night with an ample amount of premium shot opportunities. They had Arizona State goaltender Ben Kraws in defensive mode practically all night, as he did his best to stop shots left and right coming from the Bobcat attack. He recorded a career-high 49 saves as a result of his outstanding efforts. 

Play got very physical down the stretch and penalties were assessed with 5:36 left in the game. A scrum ensued in front of the Sun Devils net with some pushing, shoving and even some fists raised. Arizona State first year forward Josh Doan and Quinnipiac forward TJ Friedmann were assessed 10-minute game misconducts as a result.

Things are looking up for the Bobcats. Ever since suffering a 3-1 loss against a powerful, ranked North Dakota squad, they have put together a five-game winning streak. In that stretch, they have averaged 3.2 goals per game and have two shutouts on their record, against Yale and Brown. 

With a majority of non-conference games now in the rearview mirror, the homestand rolls on for the Bobcats as they build toward the bulk of their ECAC schedule. It starts with matchups against Clarkson and St. Lawrence next weekend on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. from the People’s United Center.