Chestnut Hill, Mass. — Early season college hockey games tend to be sloppy and mistake-filled. Friday night’s contest between Quinnipiac and Boston College did little to go against the status quo.
Alex Whelan’s goal at the 15:10 mark of the second period gave the visiting Bobcats a 1-0 lead, but a too many men on the ice penalty late in the third period paved the way for freshman Jacob Tortora to even the score, 1-1.
In large part due to the play of both goaltenders, Joe Woll for Boston College and Andrew Shortridge for Quinnipiac, 1-1 was how the game would end after a scoreless overtime session.
“Both teams battled hard. Both goaltenders were the best players on the ice. I liked the way we played tonight. We made some mistakes. We made some bad changes and it cost us a win there at the end,” said Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold.
“Tonight’s game was a good battle of goaltenders,” concurred BC coach Jerry York.
Whelan’s Hard Work Pays Off
On his second period goal, Whelan burst into the zone down the left side and buried a shot high above Woll’s blocker. It was a continuation of where he left off last season. All six of Whelan’s goals as a freshman came during the second semester.
The Ramsey, N.J. native has come a long way since being a healthy scratch for the first four games of his collegiate career.
“He’s taken off for us. He struggled a lot early last year with his practice work ethic. He just didn’t understand how hard he had to work,” Pecknold explained. “He’s a great kid with high character. Once he bought into that, his game took off and he got in the lineup. He just keeps getting better.”
Even aside from his goal, Whelan was easily the best forward on the ice for the Bobcats. He registered five shots on goal, retrieved a lot of pucks on the forecheck and competed hard.
“He played great other than the goal. He hunted a lot of pucks and won a lot of battles,” Pecknold complimented.
Creating all those chances is a step in the right direction, but Pecknold would like to see Whelan continue to get better and work on perfecting the accuracy on his shots.
“He’s really worked on his shot. He generates a lot of shots and chances, but he hits the goalie in the logo a lot. He has a rocket so we have to work on picking those corners,” said Pecknold.
Shortridge’s Big Saves
If Shortridge was intimidated by the arrival of heralded freshman Keith Petruzzelli, he certainly didn’t show any signs of it tonight. In fact, his play makes it tougher for Pecknold to hand the keys to Petruzzelli, the third round pick of the Detroit Red Wings.
“We’re fortunate to be blessed with two high-end goaltenders. We chose [Shortridge] to play tonight,” said Pecknold when asked why he went with the sophomore in the season opener.
Shortridge faced only 26 shots and certainly couldn’t be faulted for the game-tying goal that came off a weird bounce while BC was on the man advantage. He made two momentum-gaining saves, including stopping David Cotton on a penalty shot attempt in the first period. The other big save came in the third period on an odd man rush for BC after Quinnipiac had just hit the post at the other end.
“He was excellent. The penalty shot was big early on. He made a lot of big saves all night,” Pecknold commented.
“I take it shot by shot and focus on the moment. I take whatever comes my way,” Shortridge added.
Woll Bails Out Eagles
Woll, a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced on the night. 20 of those shots came in the first two periods when Quinnipiac was exploiting the weaknesses in the BC defense.
“Joe made some spectacular saves for us,” said York.
The first two periods were ominous for an Eagles team that struggled in their own zone a year ago. While credit has to be given to the Bobcats, the BC defense was inept at times in breaking pucks out of the zone. There was a clear difference between the retrievals and first touches made by Quinnipiac compared to the Eagles.
“They’re good with their systems. They know when to forecheck and when to back off a little bit. It’s a good team. They’re a big, heavy team,” said Woll.
It’s only one game, but it seems apparent that BC is going to have to rely on Woll to steal a lot of games for them this season. York was more optimistic in his prognosis and outlook going forward.
“I really appreciated the grit of our team and the spirit on the bench. It’s early in the season and we haven’t done a lot of system work. It’s going to be a year that’s a little better than some people have forecast for us,” said York.
Boston College returns to action next Friday night, hosting Wisconsin. It’s a shorter turnaround for Quinnipiac as it will host Boston University Sunday at 2 p.m.