No. 3 Quinnipiac men’s hockey eaten alive in embarrassing loss to Maine

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

ORONO, Maine – They say the least dangerous type of bear is a black bear – Maine men’s ice hockey debunked that notion Saturday night. The home squad played its best hockey of the season while Quinnipiac helped the Hockey East bottom feeders look like national title contenders en route to an embarrassing 4-0 loss. 

The Black Bears came out firing, throwing Quinnipiac off its game with physical play and forcing a multitude of neutral zone turnovers. The Bobcats found their footing in the latter half of the frame, outshooting Maine 10-1 in the final 10 minutes, but the play of junior goaltender Victor Ostman kept the game knotted at zero. 

The Bobcats almost broke the deadlock early in the second period. Graduate student forward Ethan de Jong corralled a rebound on his backhand and fired it toward an empty right side of the net, but Black Bears graduate student defenseman Jakob Sirota slid across the crease to make a save of his own. 

That was one of the last exciting moments for Quinnipiac in the period. Poor passing, untimely turnovers and uncharacteristic miscues led the way for the Bobcats in what was debatably their worst offensive period of the season. 

Defensively, Quinnipiac held strong in the frame’s opening minutes, but even there it’s play depleted as the clock ticked down. Luckily for the Bobcats, sophomore goaltender Yaniv Perets did what he does best and said no to every puck that came his way. 

You can only rely on a goaltender for so long however, and three minutes into the third period things started to fall apart. The Black Bears put a shot on net that the Bobcats defenders couldn’t clear, and after two rebounds found sophomore forward Cole Hanson in the slot. He didn’t relinquish the opportunity and snuck one by Perets to give Maine a 1-0 lead. 

Less than 10 minutes later the Black Bears struck again. Senior forward Ben Poisson rifled one home on the power play and their lead grew to two. 

In quick succession, senior forward Matthew Fawcett and sophomore forward Nolan Renwick found twine as well, suddenly plunging the Bobcats into an insurmountable deficit. 

That’s where the score would stand when the final buzzer rang. Quinnipiac was outplayed, outshot and outchanced by a team tabbed to finish last in its conference. 

The Bobcats were lucky Maine couldn’t hit the net from above the faceoff dots or they may have been looking at an even worse outcome. 

When Quinnipiac fell behind in this game, it seemed to fall even further back on its heels rather than gritting its teeth and coming out flying. The Bobcats effort in the final ten minutes was trumped by that of the Naked 5 on its post-goal laps of the arena. 

After an impressive series against North Dakota last weekend, Quinnipiac played essentially the opposite tonight, and it could cost them. 

The Bobcats will face Maine once again in the series finale Sunday at 4 p.m. If they’re swept, their chances of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament come March will be infinitely smaller. 

A series that was billed as a cakewalk a day ago now leaves Quinnipiac with a lot to prove. It has 60 minutes to showcase why it was ranked No. 3 in the nation and avoid national scrutiny that could haunt this team for the rest of the season.