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While the game had no impact on the standings, with the playoffs for the ECAC being locked down, Quinnipiac fans showed up in droves to cheer against local rival Yale and celebrated a 4-1 victory on Saturday night.
It looked early on like the Bulldogs would take some energy out of the building with a quick goal. A minute and a half in, it looked like Yale had the opening tally from junior Dan O’Keefe off of a hard 40-foot wrist shot. The goal was waived off on review, and returned to a scoreless game.
A great deal of anticipation with the game was in the goaltending match between two of the nations’ best netminders in Alex Lyon and Michael Garteig. For Garteig, anticipating the staring contest between the two was a motivating factor in his game.
“I think Alex Lyon is one of the best, if not the best in the country, but I don’t think I’ve ever lost to Alex Lyon,” Garteig said. “I’m not saying that I’m so far beyond him as a goalie, but I think me and him have a really good goalie battle with each other. I really enjoy playing against him because he makes me a lot better and I know that when I play him, I raise my level and I’m sure he does the same.”
At 13:52, Quinnipiac struck first. On a forecheck, Tommy Schutt took the puck in behind the net, shielding it away until he could get the pass to defenseman Chase Priskie. His shot, still loose in Lyon’s pads, was put in by Scott Davidson in the paint.
“It wasn’t our best period in the first, I thought Yale really took it to us,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “But I thought we weathered the storm a little bit there. ‘Gartsy’ was great. “We found a way to play better in the second and third.”
Yale evened the score midway through the second period. Mike Doherty picked up a loose puck in the far side corner and sent it across to Ted Hart. Hart’s pass connected with Izmirlian out in Garteig’s crease, and he tapped it home.
For Yale coach Keith Allain, having a strong first period and performance from Alex Lyon weren’t enough.
“I didn’t like the game at all; it was kind of sloppy,” Allain said. “I wasn’t thrilled with our game, so that’s what happens when you don’t play your game.”
The emotions in the stands spilled out onto the ice, as the teams combined for 24 penalty minutes, including six roughing minors. For goal scorer Tanner MacMaster, adjusting and having more discipline and getting away from skirmishes after the whistle distracted from play.
“I mean we kind of want to stay away from that, we talked about our composure,” MacMaster said. “Even myself, I kinda got into it a little bit with that penalty, but I think we did a good job with that as the game went on. We gotta stay out of that stuff and stick to our game.”
Midway through the third, the Bobcats had a long opportunity on a power play after Mike Doherty was sent off for a game misconduct and five-minute charging call. Quinnipiac, however, was unable to convert on the man advantage.
“I thought their PK was great; it was excellent,” said Pecknold. “We struggled a little bit. I thought actually when we got that five-minute major we had some good looks. We just couldn’t find a way to score goals, but there’s a reason they’re the number one PK in the country.”
The impact of holding the Bobcats to six shots overall, with five on the extended power play, did not provide the momentum shift Allain expected.
“I really thought we’d get momentum out of it, but it really drained us,” Allain said.
Freshman defenseman Luke Shiplo blasted his second goal in as many games to give Quinnipiac the 3-1 lead. QU sealed the game with an empty-net goal from Tim Clifton from center ice.
With the victory, Quinnipiac has ended its regular season with one loss in conference and two overall, going 16-1-5 in the ECAC and 25-2-7 overall in the regular season after clinching the regular season title Friday against Brown.
“I think it’s just, the second half has been a struggle for myself and the team included, but I just knew I could play better,” Garteig said. “I don’t think over the stretch that I’ve been playing very well. I think this weekend was really good for the team and also myself. To let in a goal, just one goal against Yale, a good Yale team on a hot streak like that, credit to them, they’re a great team. They showed up tonight. I was excited.”
Both Connecticut teams have a bye as two of the top four teams in the ECAC, and will return to play on March 11.