Friday, May 24, 2013
ORONO - Well, yes, it turns out scoring may be something of a challenge for the University of Maine men's hockey team.
Maine’s Connor Leen tries to knock the puck past Quinnipiac goalie Eric Hartzell during the third period of their season opener Saturday night. Quinnipiac won, 2-1.
Michael C. York/The Associated Press
The Black Bears were shut out in the second and third periods of their season opener Saturday night and lost 2-1 to Quinnipiac on a goal with 1:26 left.
A deflated crowd of 4,338 filed out of Alfond Arena after seeing the Black Bears jump out to a 1-0 lead with the game barely five minutes old, then fail to score again despite several good chances.
"We outchanced them pretty significantly, but that's the way the game is," said Maine Coach Tim Whitehead, whose squad outshot Quinnipiac 32-18 but came up empty on five power-play opportunities, including one with a little more than four minutes remaining in a game that was tied at 1.
"We're going to be in a lot of those tight, low-scoring games," he said, "so we'd better get used to it."
Jordan Samuels-Thomas, a Connecticut native who sat out last season after transferring from Bowling Green (where he led the team in scoring each of his first two seasons), scored the winner after a faceoff won by Jeremy Langlois, who also assisted on the first goal for Quinnipiac, an ECAC team.
"It was a really long year," Samuels-Thomas said. "To score the game-winner like this in my first game back is just a blessing."
Maine goalie Dan Sullivan caught part of the puck, which slid between his arm and chest.
The Black Bears played with six skaters for the final 1:26, but Quinnipiac goalie Eric Hartzwell, who finished with 31 saves, was up to the task.
"It's tough coming in here," Hartzwell said of the noisy arena. "An atmosphere like this is pretty crazy."
The place erupted in the game's fifth minute when freshman Steven Swavely gathered in a faceoff won by his brother Jon, a junior, and scored from between the circles.
"We grew up skating together every day, so we've always had a little bit of chemistry," said the freshman from Reading, Pa.
It remained 1-0 into the second period, despite an 11-3 Maine advantage in shots in the first. Two minutes into the second, Quinnipiac tied it when Travis St. Denis stuffed a shot between a turned-around Maine defender's legs and past a screened Sullivan after a feed from behind the net by Langlois.
Sullivan finished with 16 saves, 10 of them in the second period.
Joey Diamond, one of the three Maine captains, cut the 103rd game of his college career short with a game misconduct midway through the second for hitting from behind.
Diamond's departure proved particularly challenging for the Black Bears. Of the five leading scorers from last season, three graduated and one signed a pro contract, leaving Diamond as the sole returnee.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: