HAMDEN, Conn. –Quinnipiac men's ice hockey junior Matthew Peca (Petawawa, Ontario) scored twice to lead the No. 3 Bobcats to a 6-3 win against No. 14 Clarkson at High Point Solutions Arena.With the win, Quinnipiac improves to 20-4-5 overall and 10-2-3 in ECAC Hockey play while Clarkson drops to 16-11-2 overall and 9-6-0 in league action. The Bobcats also improve to 5-1-2 against ranked opponents for the year.
Peca's two-goal outing gives the junior 10 points - on four goals and six assists - in his last five games. Peca's two goals came after Connor Jones (Montrose, British Columbia) became the first player in NCAA history to score a goal in the first 10 seconds of a game twice in his career. Connor scored eight seconds into the Bobcats' 8-1 win against Dartmouth on Jan. 31 before scoring 10 seconds into the Bobcats tilt against Clarkson.
Cory Hibbeler (St. Charles, Mo.) snapped a 15-game goalless streak with his fourth marker of the year, and Bryce Van Brabant (Morinville, Ontario) scored his sixth goal in as many games. Kellen Jones (Montrose, British Columbia) had a goal and an assist while Travis St. Denis (Trail, British Columbia) had four assists. Zach Tolkinen (Lino Lakes, Minn.) had two assists in the win while Michael Garteig (Prince George, British Columbia) became the first 20-win goal in NCAA hockey in the Bobcats' win.
Kellen Jones set up his brother, Connor, with the game's first goal when he intercepted a Clarkson pass just above the blue line in the Golden Knights' defensive zone. Kellen tipped the puck to his left where Connor picked it up along the boards. He then skated in on Clarkson freshman goalie Ville Runola, beating him one-on-one to give Quinnipiac a 1-0 lead.
Peca gave the Bobcats a 2-0 lead a little more than a minute later with his eighth goal of the season. St. Denis dug the puck out of the corner and skated behind the Clarkson goal. He tried to carry it out in front but instead dropped a pass onto Peca's stick for the one-timer on the crease.
Coming out of the second period, Clarkson responded with two goals in the first 1:18 of the period, with Jarrett Burton and Allan McPherson scoring to knot the score at 2-2. Burton's goal came off a rebound as the senior wing dove across the slot before re-directing the puck back past Garteig for the Golden Knights' first goal. McPherson's 10th goal of the year came when he tipped a shot send through traffic by James de Haas, which was also tipped by Will Frederick, that caromed off the left post and in.
Hibbeler got on the board with just under seven minutes to play in the middle frame when he picked up a loose puck in front of Runola and went bar-down to give Quinnipiac a 3-2 lead. Tolkinen fired a shot from the point that was tipped by Dan Federico (Acton, Mass.) before being knocked down by a scrum in front of the Clarkson goal. Hibbeler, crashing the net, was able to get a stick on it and tip it over Runola.
Peca scored his second goal of the game with just under two minutes to play when he dragged the puck down the left flank and wrapped it around the boards to St. Denis. St. Denis fired the puck to Jordan Samuels-Thomas (West Hartford, Conn.) in the slot, who had his one-timer blocked by a Clarkson defenseman. Peca was able to pick up the loose puck, walk across the goal mouth and flip a back-hand past Runola for his ninth goal of the year.
With 9:01 left in the game, de Haas scored on the power play to pull the Golden Knights within a goal, 4-3. de Haas' goal came off a blast from the point with assists credited to Kevin Tansey and A.J. Fossen.
With less than seven minutes to play, Van Brabant scored his 12th goal of the year - and sixth in his last six games - on the power play. St. Denis moved the puck around the perimeter to Tolkinen on the halfboards. Tolkinen sent the puck through traffic where Van Brabant tipped it off the post. He was able to collect his own rebound and deposit the puck to give Quinnipiac a two-goal lead, 5-3.
Kellen Jones' NCAA-leading fourth short-handed goal of the year with 3:40 remaining in the game gave Quinnipiac a 6-3 lead with less than four minutes to play. Peca and St. Denis had assists on the play, with St. Denis converting his sixth point in his last four games.
Quinnipiac is back in action on Saturday, Feb. 8 when it hosts St. Lawrence in an ECAC Hockey match-up set for a 7 p.m. start at High Point Solutions Arena at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn. The game can be see on ESPN3, where available, by clicking on the appropriate links at the Official Website of Quinnipiac Athletics, QuinnipiacBobcats.com.