Weekend exhibition sweep for the Bobcats after pair of 4-2 wins


Photo: Alex Wanatick

Noah Epstein and Connor Coar

Game One:

The Quinnipiac Bobcats men’s hockey team played tremendous defense and beat the Toronto Varsity Blues 4-2 on Saturday at the M&T Bank Arena.

In their first game since the NCAA Tournament in March 2022, the six-time Cleary Cup Champions had an impressive night defensively, especially in the first period.

Toronto only had two shots-on-goal in the first period, although the Blues spent some time in the Quinnipiac zone toward the beginning of the period. The Bobcats made some defensive adjustments that helped them only allow a couple of shots-on-goal throughout period one.

“They were doing a really good job on their swarm and we adjusted,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “I thought our guys did a great job getting some pucks out of that and getting some zone time.”

While the Bobcats defense was playing superb, the offense got two goals on the board in the opening period. 

The first goal came just over five minutes into the game. TJ Friedmann won a faceoff in the Toronto zone and the puck went right to CJ McGee, who sent the puck past Blues goalie Jett Alexander.

The next goal was scored by the Quinnipiac captain. Zach Metsa got a pass from Cristophe Tellier, and then Metsa took a wrist shot and scored to make it 2-0. Right after the puck went into the net, Metsa chest bumped two Bobcats fans through the boards, reciprocating electric energy into the arena.

Quinnipiac added to the 2-0 lead three minutes into the second period. Tellier set up Collin Graf for a mid-range slap shot, and then Skyler Brind’Amour tipped in the rebound past Alexander. 

Toronto scored a goal against Yaniv Perets halfway through the second period to make it a 3-1 game, and that’s all Perets let up.

After playing 34 minutes, Perets was replaced in net by sophomore Noah Altman. Altman played the remaining 25 minutes, making nine saves out of 10.

“The best thing tonight was Noah Altman getting in – the first time he’s ever played for us,” Pecknold said. “He did great.”

Each team scored a goal in the last seven seconds of regulation, one by Blues forward Cole Purboo and the other, a last second goal by Bobcats forward Victor Czerneckianair to make the final score 4-2.

The Bobcats start out 1-0 in one of their two exhibition games. Their other exhibition game is on Sunday, Oct. 2 where they will take on the Providence Friars, who are also 1-0.

Quinnipiac’s first regular season game will be on Friday, Oct. 7 at Boston College as they look to get Clearly Cup No. 7.


Game Two:

After dominating the University of Toronto 4-2 on Saturday afternoon, the No. 7 Bobcats took on No. 15 Providence Friars on Sunday afternoon and won by a final score of 4-2. 

It’s been almost 200 days since the Quinnipiac Bobcats lost to the Michigan Wolverines 7-4 back in late March. When they finally took the ice against the University of Toronto and Providence College this past weekend, it was clear that the team is fighting for something bigger than just making the national tournament come April 2023. 

Although it was only an exhibition game, the matchup  felt like a regular season matchup between two nationally ranked opponents. 

10 NHL prospects wore the black and silver, which on paper made it look like Quinnipiac would be at a disadvantage. That was not the case by the time of puck drop. 

Head coach Rand Pecknold has realized the importance of these exhibition games and that the competition brings out the teams true colors, both positive and negative.

“I think we got better this weekend. We got some good evaluation on our players,” Pecknold said. “A lot of our players got better. Especially our freshmen and transfers, and learning our identity and our infrastructure system.”

The first period did not have  much action besides a lone goal from first-year Anthony Cippilone, brother of senior Joey Cipollone, after his shot went off the far shoulder of Providence goaltender Philip Svedebäck and trickled into the net for the game’s opening goal.

Senior CJ McGee added to the Bobcats scoring in the second period off an assist from graduate student Desi Burgart. 

McGee started off his senior campaign matching his career output in goals, with two goals during exhibition play. 

As the second period wore on, the chippiness of the game proved to be a recurring theme.

A total of 15 penalties were assessed throughout the game’s entirety and led to multiple man advantages – something that Pecknold’s squad ranked near the bottom in the NCAA last season (power play percentage).

In the Bobcats power play opportunities, the team had success against the Friars today. 

Assistant captain and graduate student Ethan de Jong scored two goals, both on the man advantage, which felt like big relief after struggling so much last season. 

“It felt really good,” de Jong said. “I know we got some guys in different positions this year. So it feels really good.”

From here on out, it will be important for the Bobcats to be more productive on the power play and continue the stellar defense that has carried the team over the past few seasons. 

The real test will begin on Friday, Oct. 7, against Boston College at Conte Forum.