Quinnipiac can’t take advantage of opportunities, lose 4-2 to Maine

Matt Nygaard

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“We’re struggling to buy into our identity,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said following a 4-2 loss to the Maine Black Bears at the People’s United Center on Friday, Oct. 18.

Despite being out shot 33-18, the Black Bears made the most of their opportunities.

Junior forward Eduards Tralmaks got the offense going for Maine. Shortly after a breakaway of his was stopped by the glove of junior goaltender Keith Petruzzelli, Tralmaks found himself alone in front of the net for the game’s first goal. He slammed home the rebound, and this time Petruzzelli didn’t have a good chance at the save.

The Black Bears went into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead and led the battle in shots 9-5. The slow start was uncharacteristic of a Quinnipiac team that got out to a lot of big leads last season and was known for starting fast.

Connor Lawless

“We didn’t give up a lot of chances,” Pecknold said. “But we still gave up four goals on 18 shots and you can’t win hockey games that way.”

This game was a tale of two NHL-drafted goaltenders who had very different games. Junior goaltender Jeremy Swayman was drafted in the fourth round by the Boston Bruins and made 31 saves on 33 shots. He was the difference for Maine in this game, while Petruzzelli struggled despite being a third round pick to the Detroit Red Wings just two years ago.

“Swayman was the best player on the ice,” Pecknold said. “He was excellent and is by far the best player, so congrats to them.”

On the other end of the ice, it was a very different game for Petruzzelli. He kept the Bobcats in the game in the first period with eight saves on nine shots. However, he had his struggles in the latter two periods.

In the second and third periods the Bobcats offense totaled 28 shots. The Black Bears had just six shots in the second and two in the third, which was the clear difference in this game.

“Swayman shut it down nicely,” Quinnipiac sophomore forward Wyatt Bongiovanni said. “Credit to him, I don’t think we got in front of his eyes enough. We need to challenge him more tomorrow and get screens.”

Despite the slow start, Quinnipiac woke up in the second period after Tralmaks scored another goal to make it 2-0 Black Bears.

Hamden native and junior forward Joe O’Connor got his first start tonight and did not disappoint when he cut the Maine lead in half with his first goal of the season. The Bobcats used the goal as momentum in the middle of the period.

The game got more and more chippy with late hits after whistles, and Quinnipiac was awarded its third power play of the game. Bongiovanni was able to make the most of the power-play opportunity when he scored a beauty from the right face-off dot into the top left corner to tie the game at 2-2.

Maine was not phased by Quinnipiac erasing the two-goal lead and stayed poised. Senior forward Tim Doherty beat Petruzzelli just two minutes later to retake the lead.

Connor Lawless

“We have to just take away the positives from that period and that instance and try to replicate them tomorrow,” Bongiovanni said.

From there, the story was goaltending and penalties. Quinnipiac came out firing in the third period with a lot of guys in the opposing penalty box. The Bobcats had 17 shots on goal and three power-play chances, but they were unable to convert on any of them. Swayman stood on his head in the third period and locked up the Bobcats.

Petruzzelli, 200 feet away, saw only two shots on goal in the third period and conceded the dagger on Maine’s only power play of the period to make it 4-2.

The difference in this game was the Black Bears making the most of the few opportunities they got. Quinnipiac had more chances but could not convert when it mattered most like the Black Bears did.

The Bobcats have a quick turnaround when they will do the same thing all over again tomorrow. Quinnipiac and the Maine Black Bears will drop the puck at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Frank Perrotti Jr. Arena.