SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – In a game featuring four ties and five lead changes, the No. 5 Bobcats ended up on the wrong end of a 6-4 decision at the hands of No. 11 Union from Messa Rink. Quinnipiac drops just their third game of the year to fall to 13-3-3 (6-2-2 ECAC Hockey) while the Dutchmen seize control of first place in the ECAC Hockey as they improve to 10-3-2 (7-1 ECAC Hockey).
Neither team could separate from the other all evening in this contest between the two top teams in the ECAC Hockey heading into Saturday. The Bobcats came back from three separate one goal deficits before allowing the eventual game-winner with 5:29 remaining.
Quinnipiac was led by sophomore Travis St. Denis (Trail, B.C.) and junior Bryce Van Brabant (Morinville, Alberta) who each tallied one goal and one assist on the evening. Senior Kellen Jones (Montrose, B.C.) and goalie Michael Garteig (Prince George, B.C.) scored the other two goals for the Bobcats on Saturday. Garteig was the last player that touched the puck for the Bobcats before Union scored on its own goal. The sophomore goalie posted 24 saves in defeat.
Much like the previous night at Rensselaer, the Bobcats found themselves down early as Mike Vecchione picked up a goal off a rebound left at the far post less than five minutes into the game.
Quinnipiac settled down and started to gain some possession back which finally resulted in a goal at 18:33 in the first. Senior Dan Federico (Acton, Mass.) stretched a pass up to the neutral zone where St. Denis was waiting. St. Denis one-touched a pass to Van Brabant who skated with speed towards Union goalie Colin Stevens and flicked a wrister top shelf to tie the score.
The Van Brabant power-play goal was quickly answered, however, as the Dutchmen's Michael Pontarelli was left wide open at the far post. The crossing pass from Vecchione behind the net made it past Garteig's stick and resulted in a wide open tally that made it 2-1 with just 22 seconds remaining in the first.
The second period started with one of the most bizarre goals as Union scored on themselves in a delayed penalty situation. Stevens had been off the ice for more than 30 seconds as the Dutchmen controlled possession in the Bobcats end. An errant pass sent the puck spinning into the neutral zone and into the Union end. Union's Shayne Gostisbehere mishandled the puck as he was about to turn up-ice and the puck's momentum backwards made it all the way into the empty net. Garteig was credited with the goal as the last Bobcat to touch the puck.
Union shook off the embarrassment with a power-play goal less than two minutes later. A slap shot from Daniel Carr hit a Quinnipiac player's stick and Eli Lichtenwald knocked in the open shot to give the Dutchmen the 3-2 lead in this seesaw battle.
Quinnipiac came out of the locker room with a purpose in the third as they scored two quick goals to take the lead less than six minutes into the frame. St. Denis had the equalizer at 4:18 as he scored a power-play goal off a wicked angle to make it 3-3 before Kellen tallied an unassisted goal just over a minute later to give the Bobcats their first lead of the game.
That ever-elusive lead was short-lived as the Dutchmen answered with Pontarelli's second goal of the night. Vecchione won a faceoff back to Pontarelli whose shot from the point made it through traffic and into the back of the net to make it 4-4.
As the clock continue to wind the Dutchmen found the eventual game-winner off the stick of Matt Wilkins as he deflected a crossing pass out of mid-air past Garteig at the near side post.
Lichtenwald added an empty netter for Union with three seconds remaining as the Dutchmen finished this seesaw affair with three unanswered goals to claim the victory.
Quinnipiac will next return to action on Dec. 29 at the UConn Holiday Tournament from the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The Bobcats will play UMass Amherst in the First Round game set to meet either Sacred Heart or the host Huskies on Dec. 30.