HAMDEN, Conn. — The Maine Black Bears spoiled the home opener for the Quinnipiac Bobcats by mounting a four goal comeback to beat the Bobcats 4-3 in Hamden. Quinnipiac took an early 3-0 lead with two goals in the first period and another just 41 seconds into the second period. Maine then slowly mounted a four goal rally for the comeback victory.
Maine’s Brittany Ott made 32 saves in the win, while QU’s Victoria Vigilanti stopped 24 in the loss.
“It was the worst collapse that I’ve been a part of,” said Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley. “We turned the puck over in the neutral zone, we didn’t cover anyone in our zone, and it just snow balled.”
The Bobcats took a quick 1-0 lead just 18 seconds into the game on a power-play goal from senior assistant captain, Bethany Dymarczyk. After Kelly McDonald was called for a body checking penalty nine seconds into the game, the Bobcats went on the attack. Dymarczyk wasted no time following the offensive zone faceoff as she wristed a shot from the left point that tipped through traffic to beat Maine goaltender, Brittany Ott.
Quinnipiac would sandwich two goals in the first by scoring another with just eleven seconds left in the opening period. A Brittany Lyons shot was saved by Ott, but the rebound couldn’t be covered as Chelsea Illchuk tapped a backhander past the glove of Ott.
The Bobcats extended their lead 41 seconds into the middle frame on an odd angled shot from Lyons. Lyons took control of the puck in the right corner and made her way to the net on a horizontal route even with the goal. Her shot then sneaked just within the left post of the Maine net.
“It was tough to see our kids go down 3-0 because they haven’t experienced that playing level yet this year,” said Maine head coach Maria Lewis. “I knew that if we could just put a couple of good plays together we could settle down and get our legs underneath us.”
“I’m not going to lie I was a little nervous to see how our kids would respond to that, but I was happy to see the way we did respond.”
After a number of centering passes cruised through the slot through the first period and a half, Maine was finally able to connect. At the 13:07 mark of the second period Brianne Kilgour took the puck from the neutral zone on the far side and looped around behind Vigilanti. As she emerged to Vigilanti’s right she sent a backhanded centering pass through the slot. Her intended connection was missed, but found Kayla Kaluzny in the high slot who beat Vigilanti high glove side to cut the QU lead to 3-1.
Just over five minutes later Maine cut the lead to one on an explosive play through the neutral zone by Myriam Croussette and Danielle Ward. Croussette went blue line to blue line with a crisp pass right to the stick of Ward. Ward broke through the Quinnipiac zone and wristed a backhander through the pads of Vigilanti for her third goal of the season.
“When they start to put plays like that together it’s inspiring,” said Lewis. “I wouldn’t attribute the comeback to one play, but that goal was defiantly a big part.”
Maine continued their success 30 seconds into the third on a giveaway by Vigilanti. After Vigilanti took a dump in attempt from the Black Bears she wristed a pass to the near-side half boards. No one was there for Quinnipiac, but Jennifer More was there for Maine. More took a shot on net that was saved, but not covered up as Kaluzny banged home her second of the game.
One minute and 47 seconds later, the Black Bears took the lead on another missed cover up by Vigilanti. The initial shot from Maine’s Missy Denk was stopped by Vigilanti, but was loose in the crease. From there the puck was tipped by a skate in the crease and into the QU net.
“Our girls know that if we battle and pay attention to details we can be a great team, and they know that if we don’t battle we can be a poor team,” said Seeley.
This marks the second straight weekend that QU gave up four goals in a Friday night loss. With the win, the Black Bears improve upon their undefeated 3-0-0 record.
It will be a quick turnaround as these two teams are at it again tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 for the second game of the two game set.