No. 3 Quinnipiac hockey takes down UConn in Nutmeg Showdown, 5-2

Photo: Quinnipiac University Athletics
Photo: Quinnipiac University Athletics

HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH)– The No.3 Quinnipiac Bobcats ended the UConn Huskies’ four game undefeated streak with a 5-2 win over the Huskies in front of a capacity crowd at the High Points Solutions Arena in Hamden on Wednesday night. With the win the Bobcats improve to (3-1-1) while UConn falls to (2-1-2) with the loss.

Andrew Taverner got the Bobcats on the board in the first as he deked a Connecticut defender out of his skates and then fired a rocket wrist shot from the blue line that flew under UConn’s Adam Huska’s blocker for the goal. Taverner was set up with a great pass by Connor Clifton as Quinnipiac took the early lead just eight minutes into the game.

Quinnipiac would pad their lead later in the first when Connor Clifton would throw the puck in front of the UConn net. Scott Davidson would battle off two UConn defenders for a loose puck and as he fell to the ice was able to hurl the puck under the cross-bar for Quinnipiac’s second goal.

UConn would cut into the deficit just under two minutes into the second period. The Huskies took advantage of their power play after a hooking penalty by Scott Davidson. Chris Truehl made two huge saves for the Bobcats and eventually was on his back with the puck under his leg pads. Quinnipiac tried to clear the puck out from Truehl’s pads but Spencer Naas was able to knock the puck in the cut the UConn deficit to one.

It didn’t take long for the Bobcats to respond. Exactly two minutes later, Thomas Aldworth picked up a rebound in front of the UConn goal and was able to quickly cut behind the net and slide a back-hander past a diving Huska for a wrap-around goal.

While the Huskies would once again cut the lead to one, the Bobcats would respond in a big way. First, freshman Brogan Rafferty found himself on a breakaway. Rafferty faked a backhand shot, and then threw a shot throw the five hold to score his first career goal. Sixty four seconds later the Bobcats power play when Connor Clifton pump faked a defender and fired a wrist shot from the top of the near side faceoff circle over Huska’s glove. It was a wild second period with five of the game’s seven goals coming in those twenty minutes.

Despite a couple of great chances in the third, the Huskies’ offense was denied by Quinnipiac goaltender Chris Truehl who made 13 saves in the third, and 29 overall earning his second win of the season. These included a couple of huge glove saves that kept the game at 5-2.

While the atmosphere on the ice during the game was intense, both teams came together before and after the game to honor former UConn head coach Bruce Marshall who passed away early this week. There was a moment of silence before the game, and after the final whistle, both teams formed a circle at center ice while a video tribute for Marshall was played on the arena scoreboard.

Connecticut head coach Mike Cavanaugh said that the idea for the tribute came from Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold. “It’s a sad situation for UConn hockey and there was such much history he brought to our program. The tribute was all Rand’s idea. He called me up and told me they wanted to do a tribute and I thought that was great.”

“He was a good friend of mine” Pecknold said about Marshall. “He was at UConn for 25 years and helped UConn and us launch into division one and his help over the years really meant a lot to me.”

Cavanaugh was positive after the loss as he feels that there is a good chance both teams could meet again in the NCAA Tournament. “I feel like we have the talent to get to the National Tournament and I hope we get to to play them (Quinnipiac) again. Our guys gave everything they had tonight and I could tell they left everything they had on the ice tonight.”

As for Quinnipiac, Pecknold believes that the win was a strong performance after the team’s slow start. “I think the first four games we lacked some honest, we expected good things and balances to come our way but that’s not how life works. If you work, compete, and make sacrifices you will get good bounces and tonight I thought we had a much more honest effort.”