ORONO, Maine — University of Maine hockey coach Ben Barr expected Quinnipiac to crank up its game on Sunday afternoon after his Black Bears had stunned the nation’s third-ranked Bobcats 4-0 on Saturday night.
He was right.
The opportunistic and efficient Bobcats scored four goals on nine shots in the second period and cruised to a 6-2 victory over UMaine to salvage a split of the weekend series.
Quinnipiac is now 3–1-2 while UMaine fell to 2-3.
Quinnipiac was the preseason choice to win the ECAC league title and is seeking its fourth-straight NCAA tournament appearance.
Quinnipiac’s Desi Burgart opened the scoring five minutes into the game on the power play, but Brandon Holt equalized on a UMaine power play just 1:37 later.
The teams entered the second period tied, but senior center Skyler Brind’Amour, son of Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, began the flurry of unanswered goals for Quinnipiac just 45 seconds into the period.
Brind’Amour took a Michael Lombardi pass as he busted down the left wing. He was able to hold off UMaine defenseman Jakub Sirota and fired a wrist shot from the inner half of the left faceoff circle and beat UMaine goalie Victor Ostman to the short side.
“(Sirota) was coming on me, I was able to protect the puck and I shot it. Luckily, it went in,” said Brind’Amour.
Victor Czerneckianair made it 3-1 courtesy of a fortunate bounce. Cristophe Tellier snapped the puck towards the net and it hit Sirota’s stick and deflected to the middle of the low slot, and Czerneckianair swept the rebound inside the far post.
Just 45 seconds later, Jacob Quillian extended the lead to 4-1 when he took a pass from T.J. Friedmann, used his speed to split a pair of defensemen and wristed the puck past Ostman from the base of the left faceoff circle.
Collin Graf capped the spree with a one-timer from the left faceoff circle off a nifty cross-ice pass from Charles-Alexis Legault.
Cole Hanson’s shorthanded goal for UMaine in the third period cut the lead to 5-2, but Quinnipiac’s Jayden Lee added an insurance goal later in the period.
Quinnipiac’s Yaniv Perets finished with 29 saves before Chase Clark made four over the final 2:10 while Ostman, who had shut out the Bobcats on Saturday, wound up with 26.
“This was the same game we played at Bentley,” said Barr, referring to a 5-1 loss the previous weekend. “First period, fine. Then we have a crap line change on the first shift [of the second period]. They score. And then the wheels come off because we have guys who are trying to do things individually.”
He said any time the opponent was able to break out of its zone and have a full ice three-on-two or two-on-one, “somebody made a stupid mistake. That happened a bunch of times tonight. It’s unacceptable.”
Barr also said they didn’t get to the Quinnipiac net like they did on Saturday night.
“They were the better team tonight,” said UMaine captain Sirota. “There were situations where we didn’t play the right way and they did.”
Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said, “we made plays tonight and we finished our chances. We didn’t finish our chances last night. That was the big difference.”
Pivotal play: UMaine was playing well and generating chances while trailing 2-1 early in the second period, but the two goals 45 seconds apart swung the momentum to Quinnipiac and UMaine couldn’t climb back into the game.
Takeaway: UMaine is a work in progress, but Saturday’s win proved the Black Bear are capable of playing with the best teams in the country when they are playing up to their potential, especially at Alfond Arena.
Up next: UMaine will open Hockey East play at home against preseason favorite Northeastern on Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. Quinnipiac begins ECAC play against Colgate and Cornell on Nov. 4 and Nov. 5, respectively.