HAMDEN, Conn. — It was déjà vu for Maine as Quinnipiac’s Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored the game-winning goal for the second consecutive season as the Bobcats took a 2-1 victory Friday night at the High Point Solutions Arena.
Samuels-Thomas corralled Dan Federico’s pass around the boards behind Maine’s goal before bringing the puck to his forehand and snapping the puck past Maine goaltender Martin Ouellette’s glove side with just 1:03 left in regulation to give Quinnipiac (15-3-4, 6-2-2 ECAC) the victory.
“We’re ecstatic to escape with the win, I’ll use the word escape,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “I don’t think we played well tonight, not quite sure what was going on, but we just didn’t have great legs. We struggled in a lot of areas in the game in the first and second, [but] I thought we were a little better in the third.”
Despite the 2-1 loss, the Black Bears (10-7-2, 4-2-1 HE) outshot the Bobcats 30-28 in the game.
“We’re not satisfied unless we win, that’s the bottom line,” Maine coach Red Gendron said. “There are no moral victories. If we were to play a season for just moral victories, why even bother playing?”
Both Ouellette and Quinnipiac netminder Michael Garteig were stellar in net in the low-scoring affair.
Ouellette finished with 26 saves on the night, including multiple saves that kept the game tied 1-1 late in the third period prior to Samuels-Thomas’ game-winner.
“[Ouellette's] a terrific goalie and he’d be the first one to tell you he probably could have been a little more aggressive on the last one,” Gendron said. “If he wasn’t as good as he was, it wouldn’t have gotten to the last one because in the third period, they had a lot of good chances. We made mistakes and things like that and Marty came up huge, so it’s not his fault we lost the game.”
Garteig stopped 29 of 30 shots in the win for Quinnipiac and Pecknold was quick to say that he had one of his top performances.
“[Garteig] was really sharp [and] I would put that up there as one of his better games,” Pecknold said. “He’s had a few where he’s been really good, the [Massachusetts-Lowell] weekend he was outstanding there, but that’s what you need sometimes from your goalie, you need your goalie to step up and win a game for you.”
Quinnipiac jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 2:09 into the second period when Cory Hibbeler forced a turnover on the end boards behind Maine’s goal and the puck trickled out to a wide-open Kellen Jones, whose first shot was denied by Ouellette, but the rebound kicked out and Jones backhanded the puck into the net.
The Black Bears answered the Bobcats midway through the second period when Devin Shore scored a shorthanded goal after he left the puck at the offensive blue line for Connor Leen, who skated to the left side of the goal and wristed a pass through the crease to a wide-open Shore at the right faceoff dot. Shore was quick to send the puck past Garteig to tie the game 1-1.
Quinnipiac and Maine exchanged offensive opportunities and physical play through much of the second period and all of the third before Samuels-Thomas won it at 18:57.
“We’re definitely not playing our best hockey right now,” Pecknold said. “Tonight was a very unusual game, very uncharacteristic of this team and our culture. We have that relentless mentality which we didn’t have tonight. I think that’s our staple, the thing we do best.”