ORONO, Me. - Junior Jordan Samuels-Thomas' (Windsor, Conn.) goal with 1:26 remaining in regulation proved to be the difference as the Quinnipiac men's ice hockey team defeated No. 15 Maine, 2-1, at Alfond Arena in Orono, Me. Quinnipiac opens the season at 1-0-0 while Maine begins the year at 0-1-0.
"This is an excellent road win," head coach Rand Pecknold said. "I didn't think we played well out of the gate, but we weathered the storm and got better as the game went on. We had a lot of timely shot blocking and did a great job of killing penalties. I thought [Eric] Hartzell kept us in the game, he was great."
Samuels-Thomas' goal in his Bobcats' debut comes after a year off the ice following the 6-4 wing's transfer from Bowling Green. Jeremy Langlois (Tempe, Ariz.) set up both goals in the Bobcats' season-opening win that also saw freshman Travis St. Denis (Trail, British Columbia) get his first career goal. Quinnipiac goalie Eric Hartzell (White Bear Lake, Minn.) gave up an early first period goal but slammed the door on the Black Bears as he stopped 31 of Maine's 32 shots on goal.
Maine got on the board first, scoring just under four minutes into the game. Off the face-off, Mark Anthoine won the draw, sending the puck to Steven Swavely. Swavely steered through traffic before flipping the puck on goal where it snuck under Hartzell's arm to give Maine a 1-0 lead.
Quinnipiac was slow to start, managing just three shots on goal in the first period. Hartzell stopped 11 of Maine's 12 shots in the period, including a lunging kick-save on a wrap-around by Devin Shore with less than two minutes to play in the period.
Two minutes into the second period, Langlois picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated in on Maine goalie Dan Sullivan. Langlois maneuvered through the Black Bears' defense to the opposite face-off circle before going to the back hand and firing a shot on goal. Sullivan denied Langlois' bid, but allowed the puck to creep across the crease where St. Denis was waiting. St. Denis had a virtually open net to shoot on as he converted on his first collegiate scoring attempt.
With 1:29 remaining in the game, Langlois won the draw in front of the Maine goal, sending the puck to Samuels-Thomas. Samuels-Thomas skated across the face-off circle and fired a shot on goal that beat Sullivan top shelf to give Quinnipiac the lead for good, with less than two minutes to play.
Quinnipiac is back in action on Sunday, Oct. 7 when it hosts Acadia University for an exhibition game at 4 p.m. at High Point Solutions Arena at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn. Quinnipiac will also host Robert Morris on Oct. 13-14.