HARTFORD, Conn. - The nationally-ranked No. 8 Quinnipiac men's ice hockey team tied UMass, 2-2, but won in a shoot-out (2-0) to advance to the UConn Hockey Classic Championship Game on Monday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. Quinnipiac goes to 13-3-4 on the year while UMass goes to 6-12-3.
Less than two minutes into the game, Quinnipiac freshman Tim Clifton (Matawan, N.J.) was called for hitting from behind, giving UMass a man advantage. Kellen Jones (Montrose, British Columbia) picked off a UMass clear deep in the Minutemen's defensive zone and wristed a shot from the right face-off circle past Umass goalie Steve Mastalerz to give the Bobcats an early lead. It was Jones' 10th goal of the year and his NCAA-best third shorthanded marker of the season.
With just under five minutes to play in the period, UMass' Emerson Auvenshine scored the first of two UMass goals in the closing minutes of the first period. Auvenshine threw a brutal hit on a Quinnipiac skater that knocked the puck loose. Zack LaRue picked up the puck and fired on Bobcats' goalie Michael Garteig (Prince George, British Columbia), who stopped the initial shot. Auvenshine was crashing the goal and was able to tip it past the Bobcats goalie to tie the game at 1-1. With 19-seconds remaining in the period, Ray Pigozzi fed Troy Power in the slot where he one-timed a shot past Garteig to give UMass a one-goal lead heading into the first intermission.
Early in the second period, Matthew Peca (Petawawa,Ontario) carried the puck into the UMass zone and fed Travis St. Denis (Trail, British Columbia) who skated into the right face-off circle and left the puck for Clifton. Clifton carried a UMass defenseman around the back of the UMass goal before reaching over the goalline and tucking the puck in off of Mastalerz's skate to tie the game, 2-2, with his first career goal.
After a scoreless third period, Quinnipiac's Sam Anas (Potomac, Md.) appeared to score the game winner early in overtime, but had the goal waved off due to a high stick. As time expired in extended play, both teams selected their three shooters for the shoot-out to advance.
Jordan Samuels-Thomas (West Hartford, Conn.) skated in an Mastalerz pulled the stick back, faking the slapper, before going five-hole to give Quinnipiac a 1-0 shoot-out lead. Umass' Michael Pereira then missed, setting up Anas as the Bobcats' second shooter. Skated up center-ice, switching from his forehand to his backhand before a hard deke to Mastalerz's right left Anas with a wide-open net to score and give Quinnipiac a 2-0 shoot-out lead. UMass' Adam Phillips' rebuttal sailed wide, giving Quinnipiac the shoot-out win.
Quinnipiac will face the winner of the second game of the UConn Hockey Classic between UConn and Sacred Heart on Monday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.