Men's Ice Hockey Upsets #11 Air Force, 4-2, To Capture Toyota UConn Hockey Classic Championship
STORRS, Conn. Bryan Leitch (Coquitlam, B.C.) earned Most
Valuable Player honors as the Quinnipiac men's ice hockey team
upset #11 Air Force, 4-2, in the Championship Game of the Toyota
UConn Hockey Classic. With the win, Quinnipiac improves to 9-6-1
overall while Air Force drops to 14-3-1 on the season.
Associate head coach Ben Syer handled the coaching duties for the Bobcats in the absence of head coach Rand Pecknold, who missed Tuesday's game due to personal family reasons. Pecknold is expected to re-join Quinnipiac this weekend. The win was Syer's first career victory.
"This feels really good," Syer said. "When you beat a nationally ranked team, especially one that plays as hard as Air Force does, it can really help a team springboard into the second half of the season."
Leitch led all scorers with five assists, including three in the Championship Game. Over two games, Leitch had a hand in five of Quinnipiac's eight goals, including the pass that set-up Brandon Wong (Victoria, B.C.) for the game-winner in the Bobcats' 4-3 win over Merrimack on Monday. Eric Lampe (Madison, Wisc.) scored twice in the Bobcats' win over Air Force. The junior center also scored in Quinnipiac's first game of the tournament to join Leitch on the all-tournament team.
"Bryan [Leitch] played great tonight," Syer said. "What I think he did well was his back-check. His offense generally takes care of itself, but he committed to his defensive play tonight and it showed."
Quinnipiac freshman Dan Clarke (Belleville, Ont.) was also named to the all-tournament team after recording 29 saves in his first career start.
"This was a great performance that we definitely needed," Syer said. "Here's a student-athlete who comes back from a preseason injury to make his first career start against a team ranked 11th in the nation, and he stops 29 of 31 shots. Just outstanding."
In addition to tournament accolades, David Marshall (Buffalo, Minn.) had a goal and an assist to become the 28th player in Quinnpiac history to reach the 100 point mark, and the 15th player to do so at the Division I level. With the goal, Marshall became the 10th player in Quinnipiac history to score 60 goals and just the fourth player at the Division I level.
Quinnipiac took a 1-0 lead just before the end of the first period when Eric Lampe (Madison, Wisc.) scored his fourth goal of the season. David Marshall (Buffalo, Minn.) controlled the puck at center ice and chipped it over the blue line to Bryan Leitch (Coquitlam, B.C.) just outside the right face-off circle. Leitch spun and saw Lampe streaking up the middle of the ice towards the net. Lampe also scored in Quinnipiac's win over Merrimack in the first game of the UConn Classic. The assist was Leitch's 20th of the season while Marshall tallied his 99th career point.
Quinnipiac took a 2-0 lead at the 12:25 mark when Brandon Wong (Victoria, B.C.) handled the puck out in front of the Quinnipiac bench. Wong passed through the Air Force defense to Leitch, who was waiting to the left of the Falcons' goal. Leitch hooked up with Marshall, who faked to the right, cut across the crease and scored to give the Bobcats a two-goal lead.
Lampe scored his second goal of the game, on the Bobcats' power play, at the 9:29 mark of the second period when Leitch passed to Spencer Heichman (Yorba Linda, Calif.). The freshman wing then hooked up with Lampe who scored his third of the tournament. Leitch also picked up his third assist of the game and fifth of the tournament.
Air Force got on the board at the 8:11 mark when Jeff Hajner scored on a pass from Greg Flynn. Flynn took control of the puck in the left face-off circle and found Hajner at the point. The goal was Hajner's seventh of the season while Flynn picked up his 19th assist of the year. Hajner scored his second goal of the game late in the third period.
Matt Sorteberg (Anoka, Minn.) added an empty net goal to seal the Bobcat win with less than two minutes to play.
Quinnipiac returns to action this weekend when they host a pair of ECAC Hockey opponents in Harvard and Dartmouth. The Bobcats host the Crimson on Friday, Jan. 2 at 7 p.m., live on New England Sports Network (NESN). Quinnipiac then hosts The Big Green of Dartmouth on Saturday, Jan. 3, also at 7 p.m.