Orono, Maine. – Maine dominated the first period against Quinnipiac and scored a quick goal 3:41 into the game off the stick of Steven Swavely. The goal came off a face-off where his brother, Jon Swavely tipped the puck and Steven buried it under the arm of Quinnipiac senior goaltender Eric Hartzell. The goal was not enough as Quinnipiac would used a strong performance from their goaltender Eric Hartzell and defeated Quinnipiac 2-1.
The Quinnipiac goaltender was strong all night and helped Rand Pecknold’s troops to the win, possibly in some ways a steal win. The goal early in the second period changed the momentum of the game. When Travis St-Denis scored two minutes into the second it turned a game that Maine was dominating into a game that Quinnipiac actually had a shot to win. Despite not showing much for most of the third period, Quinnipiac got the game winner with 1:26 left to go in the game. The goal proved to be a dagger on opening night for Maine.
What I saw
-Maine used a physical first period to smother Quinnipiac in the early going. Quinnipiac was only able to muster up six shots attempts in the first 20 minutes and three official shots. Maine went away from this early in the second and Quinnipiac scored an equalizer. When Maine was physical they dominated the Bobcats, when Maine was not Quinnipiac was allowed to take control. Maine went back to the physical play in the third and had more chances but it was seemingly not to be.
-Quinnipiac used speed and skill on the outsides in the second period to take the play from Maine. Senior goaltender Eric Hartzell was the best player on the ice for the Bobcats in the first period, where his team was outshot 12-3. Quinnipiac was extremely lucky to exit the first period down only 1-0 and the goal in the second period evened the game out for the remainder of the period.
What I thought
- Despite being matched physically in the second, Joey Diamond took a hitting from behind major and was ejected from the game on a game misconduct midway through the second period. This was not a huge turning point momentum wise as Quinnipiac took penalties to make it four on four for four minutes of the 5 minutes. Maine was without arguably their best scorer and playmaker for the remainder of the game and it showed in third as Maine could never find a scoring touch.
-Maine’s power-play, which is usually one of the top in Hockey East, struggled to get anything going on the night. Power-plays usually struggle on opening night so this was not real big a surprise but Maine’s just downright struggled. Quinnipiac was solid on the PK and the best penalty killer on the ice was their goalie, Eric Hartzell.
What they said
Quinnipiac Coach Rand Pecknold said, “Big win tonight for us and we are very happy with the win. It wasn’t our best game we can play but we still stole the win.
Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said, “it was a great hard fought game between two pretty good teams. We out-chanced them pretty badly but that’s how the game can be sometimes.”
Quinnipiac Captain Zack Currie said, “It was a back and forth game through the last two periods. We knew it was going to come down o a goal like that and it did.”
What Else You Should Know
Interesting to note, that if the game would have gone into overtime the coaches had agreed to play four on four hockey. It is optional in College Hockey, per a new rule that non-conference games can be played with a four on four overtime. Both Pecknold and Whitehead had agreed pregame and it looked as though the game would head into overtime until Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored the game winner with 1:26 remaining in the third. It would have been the first use of the rule since its inception.
Maine will play an exhibition game tomorrow night against New Brunswick, of Canada. Maine will be looking to hone in their skills on the power-play, as they struggled on the night. Teams were able to start practicing on October 6th, or today, so playing games without practice is risky but neither coach regretted the decision afterwards.