The University of Maine knows a thing or two about raucous home ice advantages from playing games at the venerable Alfond Arena, but the Black Bears (10-7-2) braved sub-zero temperatures in Orono on Friday to head to High Point Solutions Arena for its first-ever road date against the No. 8-ranked Quinnipiac University Bobcats (15-3-4).
The homestanding ‘Cats were locked up for a good chunk of what was a scoreless first period and were held without a shot on goal for the first six-plus minutes of play, but they pulled through late and earned a 2-1 victory to improve to 4-0-2 against Hockey East foes this season.
All told, the teams drew even by the end of the stanza with a 9-9 shot count in a meeting of two elite goaltenders in Maine senior Martin Ouellette (26 saves) and Quinnipiac sophomore Michael Garteig (29 saves).
QU had the first five shots on goal and held Maine off the counter for more than five minutes of the second period, but were able to find the back of the net just 2:09 into the stanza. Off the set-up of senior defenseman Cory Hibbeler and second-year mate Travis St. Denis, senior Kellen Jones notched his 11th goal of the year by following up his own shot in front.
The visiting Black Bears solved Garteig 9:55 into the stanza, scoring its national-best seventh shorthanded goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1. On the play, junior Connor Leen set sophomore Devin Shore in the left circle for a perfect wrister.
Leen, who is Maine’s leading scorer on the year, was named Hockey East’s Player of the Month as he posted two goals and eight assists, including at least one point in all five December games.
It remained a 1-1 game for most of the third period, but QU senior Jordan Samuels-Thomas (West Hartford, Conn.) had the winning answer with 63 seconds remaining as he stuffed a loose puck short side.
Ironically, it was a deja vu moment - just on a different surface - as his late goal downed the Black Bears in the teams’ previous meeting on Oct. 6, 2012 in Orono.
QU returns to action with a midweek date at Bright-Landry Hockey Center in Cambridge, Mass. on Tuesday night as it faces ECAC foe Harvard University for the second time this season.
Dartmouth 1, Vermont 1 (OT)
It was a battle for offense between the longtime twin state rivals at Gutterson Fieldhouse as the Big Green (2-11-2) and 20th-ranked Catamounts (10-6-2) battled to an overtime tie in their 76th all-time meeting. After allowing eight goals to Northeastern in his worst-collegiate outing Monday, sophomore Charles Grant made 33 stops for the visitors in the first head-to-head overtime clash in the series since the 2005 ECAC quarterfinals. Freshman Grant Opperman scored DC’s goal with second-year Nick Bligh (Milton, Mass.) dishing out his second assist. Each of the Dexter School product Bligh’s three points on the year have come away from home. UVM’s lone offense came from freshman Brady Shaw at 5:05 of the third period.
Clarkson 1, UMass Lowell 1 (OT)
Senior Joseph Pendenza (Wilmington, Mass.) scored the lone goal of the night, but that was all the No. 9 River Hawks (13-5-1) could muster against Golden Knights (12-5-2) freshman Steve Perry (38 saves) in a 1-1 stalemate at Tsongas Center. Junior Doug Carr (Hanover, Mass.) made 27 stops, including 12 in the second as he started for the second straight game due to a minor injury to sophomore Connor Hellebuyck.
New Hampshire 6. Nebraska-Omaha 3
The Wildcats (11-10-1) earned their second victory in as many games, scoring two goals in the first period and thrice more in the second to down the visiting Mavericks (8-8-1) at Whittemore Center. UNH was led by three-point performances from senior Kevin Goumas and junior Trevor van Riemsdyk on the offensive, while third-year Casey DeSmith upped his season mark to 9-8-0 with 21 saves. The game marked the first meeting between the teams since 2005 and just the third-ever, but first in Durham.
Brown 3, Denver 3 (OT)
A comeback by Bruno was elusive late night at Magness Arena. The Bears (5-6-2) came from behind three different times to salvage a tie against the No. 16 Pioneers, which was the first in six all-time meetings. Sophomore Mark Naclerio (Milford, Conn.) scored two goals - including the equalizer at 11:11 of the third period - for Brown, which piled 43 shots on Denver veteran Sam Brittain.
American International 4, Air Force 3 (OT)
Junior Alexander MacMillan scored the game-winning goal just 59 seconds into overtime as the Yellow Jackets (4-12-0, 4-6-0 Atlantic Hockey) completed a four-goal comeback over the final 20:59 to best the visiting Falcons (9-6-4, 4-3-3 AHA) in the opener of two at Olympia Ice Center. MacMillan assisted on two of the first three Yellow Jacket goals, before netting the winner. With rookie Hunter Leisner’s (20 saves) second-collegiate win, AIC picks up its first win since Nov. 15 at Holy Cross, snapping a nine-game skid.
Niagara 2, Bentley 2 (OT)
After signature wins at Boston University and Frozen Fenway, the Falcons (9-7-2, 7-2-2 Atlantic Hockey) slipped back a point with a home tie against the Purple Eagles (3-11-3, 3-4-3 AHA) at John A. Ryan Skating Arena. Junior Alex Grieve scored a critical goal 3:16 into the third period to put the hosts ahead at the time, but Brock Edwards’ goal just more of six minutes later gave NU a point. Senior Branden Komm stopped double-digit shots in each of the first two periods, totaling 34 for the night.
Connecticut 2, RIT 1
Sophomore Shawn Pauly scored the winning goal at 3:44 of the third period as the Huskies (8-6-2, 6-3-1 Atlantic Hockey) returned to league play with a victory over the Tigers (6-8-3, 5-4-1 AHA) at Freitas Ice Forum. Senior Matt Grogan was solid in goal, earning his sixth win with 32 saves on 33 shots for UConn.
Canisius 4, Holy Cross 2
Sophomore Brett Lubanski and senior Adam Schmidt scored goals in the second period, but the Crusaders (4-12-2, 3-6-2 Atlantic Hockey) came out on the wrong end of a 4-2 score against the Griffs (6-10-1, 5-4-1 AHA) in the first of two games this weekend at Worcester’s Hart Center.