Sooner or later, Quinnipiac was going to score a goal in ECAC Hockey play.
After getting shutout in their first three league games, all at home, the Bobcats’ offense came alive, and Union was the victim.
Quinnipiac ended its long ECACH scoring drought Friday. Bryan Leitch had a hat trick and two assists, and Matt Sorteberg added two goals to help the Bobcats to a 6-3 win over the Dutchmen as Messa Rink.
The Bobcats (1-2-1 ECACH, 3-4-1 overall) lost to Colgate, 1-0, last Friday, played to a scoreless tie against Cornell the next night and dropped a 2-0 decision to Princeton on Tuesday. Their league scoreless skid stretched back to last season, when they lost, 8-0, to Clarkson in the regular-season finale.
“It was a struggle,” Leitch said. “We were playing well. We just weren’t getting any bounces.”
For a team that averaged 127.5 over the last four years, it was unusual to see the Bobcats struggle. But there a sense of panic among the players.
“I knew it was going to come,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “We’ve scored a lot of goals [over the years]. Over the last 10 years of college hockey, we’re third in power-play goals and third in power-play percentage. We score goals. That’s what we’ve always done.”
The Bobcats quickly ended their slump 1:15 into the game.
Union defenseman Mike Harr’s indecision on whether to drop back or keep the puck in at the right point of the Quinnipiac zone led to a two-on-one rush for the Bobcats. Eric Lampe skated down the left wing, and fired a shot on goalie Corey Milan, who made the save. But Leitch skated down the slot and put the rebound into the net. That ended Quinnipiac’s ECACH scoreless skid at 251 minutes, nine seconds, and their overall slump at 189:43.
“Once we scored, we knew it was going to come,” Leitch said.
Sorteberg made it 2-0 on a power-play goal at 7:03. Once again, it was another horrendous start to the game for the Dutchmen (1-2, 4-3-1). They have been outscored, 12-4, in the first period this season.
Union coach Nate Leaman can only wonder why his team keeps getting off to rough starts.
“We didn’t stick to our game plan real well,” Leaman said. “They [the Dutchmen] were prepared for this game. We let somebody come into our building and outwork us. As a coach, that’s inexcusable.”
Matt Cook gave Union some momentum heading into the second period when he scored late in the first. But the Bobcats squashed that momentum, with some help from the Dutchmen.
Union took five penalties in the second, and Quinnipiac scored two power-play goals. Zach Hansen got one at 3:22. After Jason Walters scored for Union at 7:56, Leitch got his second goal during a two-man advantage with 7:35 left in the period.
Quinnipiac outshot Union, 19-5, in the period. Twelve of those shots came on the power plays.
“We took some bad penalties,” Leaman said. “We really got ourselves in a hole again by taking bad penalties. If you’re giving up 12 shots to that team on the power play, it’s tough to be successful.”
Leitch completed his hat trick by scoring on a breakaway with 4:49 left.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for the The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.