HAMDEN, Conn. – Four unanswered goals in the first 30-plus minutes of play for the No. 6 Quinnipiac men's ice hockey helped built an unsurmountable lead for the Bobcats as they downed No. 16 Yale, 6-2, in Game One of the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinal series from the High Point Solutions Arena. Five Bobcats scored, including a pair from sophomore Travis St. Denis (Trail, British Columbia), as Quinnipiac improves to 23-8-6 on the season while the Bulldogs fall to 17-10-5.
In addition to St. Denis' two-goal night, Quinnipiac saw five different freshman tally their first career postseason points – the most in a single game in Quinnipiac's Division I postseason history. Tim Clifton (Matawan, N.J.) scored the game's first goal, while his younger brother Connor scored the Bobcats' last marker. Sandwiched in-between were goals by St. Denis, Connor Jones (Montrose, British Columbia) and Bryce Van Brabant (Morinville, Alberta). Zach Tolkinen (Lino Lakes, Minn.)had two assists while Michael Garteig (Prince George, British Columbia) picked up his 23rd win of the season with a 17-save outing.
The Bobcats got on the board halfway through the first period when Brayden Sherbinin (Kelowna, British Columbia) won a battle in the corner to the right of Yale goalie Alex Lyon. Sherbinin skated behind Lyon and attempted the wrap-around, but the Bulldogs goalie was able to get a pad on the puck. Bouncing through the slot, freshman Tim Clifton picked the puck up and banged home the rebound for his third goal of the season. Clifton's goal makes him the first Quinnipiac freshman to score in his first career postseason game since Kellen Jones scored in a 4-0 win against Brown on Mar. 4, 2011 in the Bobcats' ECAC Hockey Championship First Round series at High Point Solutions Arena.
The Bobcats applied pressure in the second period, rattling off three goals under the 10-minute mark to jump out to a 4-0 lead. Matthew Peca (Petawawa, Ontario) beat a Quinnipiac defender to the puck behind Lyon, wrapping the puck up the boards to Tolkinen who had a goal in two of Quinnipiac's goals. Tolkinen collected the pucks off the boards and threw it on goal where St. Denis tipped it past Lyon for his 13th marker of the year.
Less than two minutes later it was Connor Jones scoring off a stellar transistion play by freshman Devon Toews (Abbotsford, British Columbia). Toews picked off a pass in Yale's defensive zone before wristing a pass through traffic to Jones in the slot. Jones went to the back hand and beat Lyon, five-hole, to give Quinnipiac a 3-0 lead. At the 10:33 mark, it was Van Brabant on the power play to give Quinnipiac a 4-0 lead. Kellen Jones gave Tolkinen the puck at the blue line by Quinnipiac's bench where he fired a shot on goal. Van Brabant slid in front of Lyon, tipping it to the short-side post to give the Bobcats a four-goal lead.
Yale responded with less than four minutes to play in the period with a power-play goal of its own. Tommy Fallon played the puck from the point down to Jesse Root on the goal line. Root ripped a pass across the Bobcats defensive zone to the opposite face-off dot where Ryan Obuchowski was waiting for the one-timer to cut Quinnipiac's lead back to three goals heading into the second intermission. John Hayden scored two minutes into the third period to pull Yale within two goals, 4-2.
St. Denis tallied his second goal of the evening as he took a pass from senior Jordan Samuels-Thomas (West Hartford, Conn.), skated in on Patrick Spano – who replaced Lyon to start the period – before sliding the puck between his pads to give Quinnipiac a 5-2 lead. Connor Clifton provided the final blow when he took a stretch pass from Tommy Schutt (Chanhassen, Minn.) that left him all alone below the blue line. Clifton skated between the face-off circles and roofed a shot, top-shelf, to push the Bobcats' lead to four goals.
Quinnipiac and Yale skate again in Game 2 of their ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals series on Saturday, Mar. 15 at 7 p.m.at High Point Solutions Arena at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn.