Tic-Tac-Ty: Smilanic scores two and Quinnipiac blanks Harvard 3-0


Photos: Aidan Sheedy

Mike Singer

In their first game in the New Year, the Quinnipiac Bobcats welcomed the Harvard Crimson to Hamden, winning 3-0 on Friday night.

In the opening period, Quinnipiac forward Ethan De Jong rang a shot off the crossbar just 30 seconds into a contest that consisted of shutdown defense. As both teams started to find their rhythm, Harvard forward Jack Bar dumped Quinnipiac defenseman Oliver Chau into his own bench.

Both teams had multiple scoring opportunities. Quinnipiac junior forward Ethan Leyh had the best opportunity of the first five minutes, as he snapped the puck on net which led to a juicy Joey Cipollone rebound, but he could not bury it past goalie Mitchell Gibson and the puck cleared the zone.

In what seemed like seconds after the Cipollone chance, Quinnipiac was on the attack again as forward Ty Smilanic fought off a defenseman and, while falling, scored a goal over the shoulder of Gibson.

“I kind of threw it on net,” Smilanic said. “I was buried into the boards, but I heard people cheering so I kind of figured it went in.”

Following the goal, the Bobcats went on the power play with a chance to double the lead. Crimson forward Matthew Coronato was able to kill time off the clock by rushing the puck up ice, but the play was broken up by the defensive work of Chau.

Quinnipiac ended the first period up a goal after two power plays and one penalty kill.

In the second period, Harvard settled into the game as an early rush was led by forward Alex Laferriere who tried to feed the puck to Zakary Karpa, yet trickled wide of Quinnipiac goalie Yaniv Perets. In the same play, Laferriere took an interference penalty which put Quinnipiac back on the power play.

In a matter of seconds off the faceoff, Chau found the stick of De Jong who found Smilanic alone in front of the net to finish off the tic-tac-toe play to put the Bobcats up by a pair.

“That is a set play that we run,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “It’s the first time we’ve run it all year. The guys did a great job executing.”

There was a surge in shots by the Crimson offense for the rest of the second period. A Wyllum Deveaux one timer was swallowed up by Perets. The Deveaux chance was also followed up by a Sean Farrell shot that clanked off Perets’ mask and out of play. With 21 seconds left in the period, Quinnipiac captain Wyatt Bongiovanni had to watch from the penalty box as Perets again stoned Farrell and cleared the puck out of harm’s way to preserve the shutout through two periods of play. 

“My job is just to be ready for whatever they throw at me whenever they throw [the puck] at me,” Perets said.

With a 13-game unbeaten streak on the line, the Bobcats were looking to close out the game with a strong third period effort.

In the final period, Quinnipiac killed off another Harvard man advantage that almost resulted in a Skyler Brind’Amour goal, but just could not pull the trigger on the loose puck while Gibson was down.

Multiple offensive zone rushes were nullified by defensive stickwork and frustrations started to boil over.

Crimson defenseman Christian Jimenez almost banked the puck into his own net which forced a turnover and a three-on-one situation for the Bobcats, as Bongiovanni whistled the puck wide of the net and into the neutral zone. As Quinnipiac went to regroup in the neutral zone, Bongiovanni gained steam in the offensive zone and tucked the puck five-hole on Gibson to put Quinnipiac up by three with a little less than three minutes to go in the game.

“He’s a great leader, an excellent captain,” Pecknold said. “Really happy for him to score that goal, it was a big one to kind of put the game away.”

Quinnipiac will host Dartmouth on Sunday, Jan. 16, looking to win a sixth straight regulation game and continue its 14-game unbeaten streak.