HAMDEN, Conn. - Quinnipiac senior Jordan Samuels-Thomas (West Hartford, Conn.) knocked home the game-winning goal with just over a minute remaining in regulation to push the nationally-ranked No. 8 Bobcats past Maine, 2-1, in a non-conference match-up at High Point Solutions Arena in Hamden, Conn. Quinnipiac improves to 15-3-4 on the season and 8-1-2 at home while the Black Bears drop to 10-7-2 on the year.
The score remained knotted at 1-1 throughout much of the second and third periods, with both teams producing scoring opportunities but neither converting. After Maine outshot the Bobcats, 14-8, in the second period, Quinnipiac used an 11-7 shots-on-goal edge to position itself down the stretch. Travis St. Denis (Trail, British Columbia) set-up both goals while sophomore goalie Michael Garteig (Prince George, British Columbia) backstopped the Bobcats with 29 saves on 30 Maine shots. Kellen Jones (Montrose, British Columbia) beat Maine goalie Martin Ouellette for his 11th marker of the year while Cory Hibbeler (St. Charles, Mo.) and Dan Federico (Acton, Mass.) also had assists.
The game-deciding play started with an excellent defensive poke away by Federico on a Maine transition piece. Federico flicked the puck up to Samuels-Thomas who shielded off a Black Bear defender and fed St. Denis. St. Denis then touched the puck back to Federico at the point. Federico's slap shot caromed off the boards behind the Maine goal to the far post where Samuels-Thomas was waiting. He corraled the puck and stuffed it past Maine goalie Martin Ouellette off his leg pads and into the back of the net.
The 2-1 win represents the Bobcats' second consecutive win over Maine after having not won in their first three meetings. Samuels-Thomas loomed large in last season's meeting as well, scoring the game-winning goal with just 1:26 remaining in a 2-1 Bobcat victory and he once again proved to be the difference-maker with his dramaic tally.
Garteig stepped up his play with a pair of saves on Maine breakaways, one each in the first and second periods. The first came on a shorthanded opportunity by Black Bears' leading scorer Devin Shore. Coming in with 22 points (8 goals, 14 assists), Shore was given a breakaway while the Bobcats were on the man-advantage but his backhanded deek was stonewalled by the left leg pad of Garteig.
Later in the period, after the Bobcats had failed to convert on the power play, Brian Morgan found himself all alone at the Bobcats' defensive blue line with the puck as he picked up a deflected pass. With plenty of ice in front of him, Morgan chose a quick flick with a forehand wrister on Garteig but the standout goalie was ready with the pads as both Maine breakaways were denied.
Kellen Jones (Montrose, British Columbia) scored the first goal of the game, 2:09 into the second period, after collecting his own rebound and punching it past Ouellette. St. Denis started the play when he carried the puck along the boards on the left flank before dropping a pass behind the net to Hibbeler. He tipped the puck over the stick of a Maine defensive player to Jones, who skated out from Ouellette's left and fired a shot on goal. Ouellette denied the first bid but Jones was able to get his own rebound and deposit his 11th goal of the season. St. Denis collects his fifth assist of the season, and fifth point in his last four games while Hibbeler is credited with his third assist of the season.
Maine sophomore center Devin Shore tied the game just under the 10-minute mark with his ninth goal of the season. Maine took advantage of a Quinnipiac defensive lapse when the Bobcats turned the puck over in their own zone while on the power play. Maine's Connor Lean fed Shore in the slot who one-timed the puck past Garteig to knot the game at 1-1.
Quinnipiac returns to ECAC Hockey play on Tuesday, Jan. 7 when it travels to Cambridge, Mass. to take on Harvard in a mid-week league match-up at the Bright Hockey Center at 7 p.m.