Bobcats bite back, earn series split with Maine

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

ORONO, Maine – Reeling from a disastrous loss to Maine Saturday night, No. 3 Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey rallied on Sunday, riding a four goal second period to a 6-2 victory to split the weekend series with the Black Bears. 

“Tonight I thought we played to our identity,” head coach Rand Pecknold said. “We played hard, we were better on stick battles, harder on pucks, backchecked harder, full compete, just a better hockey game.”

Unlike the night prior, it was the Bobcats who got out to a hot start. Five minutes into the game, graduate student center Desi Burgart followed up his own rebound and snuck the puck over the shoulder of Maine junior goaltender Victor Ostman for Quinnipiac’s first goal of the weekend. 

The Bobcats put the puck in the net again just minutes later, only, it was the wrong net. A point shot from Maine freshman defenseman Brandon Holt was redirected perfectly by Quinnipiac senior center Skyler Brind’Amour into his own goal to even the score. 

The Bobcats struggled mightily on the breakout in Saturday’s contest, a trend that continued through the opening frame Sunday. Pecknold attributed a large portion of this to the ice conditions. 

“You’ve got issues with the seams and glass,” Pecknold said. “Instead of off the glass and out, you’re hitting the glass and it’s coming back … how many times pucks popped over guys sticks. It was just a sloppy, chunky game.”

Tied heading into the second period, it didn’t take the Bobcats long to retake the advantage. Just 45 seconds in, a pass from graduate student winger Michael Lombardi sprung Brind’Amour down the left side, who ripped a rocket past Ostman for some redemption. 

This was the start of an avalanche of goals for Quinnipiac, who piled on four in the period from four different skaters, including the first career goal for freshman center Victor Czerneckianair. 

When the Bobcats got opportunities in the period, they converted, which was the polar opposite of the night before. Quinnipiac had a mere nine shots in the frame, but scored on four. 

The third period saw the teams play even hockey, the Bobcats’ skill competing with the Black Bears’ grit. Both teams added a mark on the scoresheet, including the first of the season for Quinnipiac senior defenseman Jayden Lee, but after 20 minutes the lead remained the same and the Bobcats skated out of the Pine Tree State victorious. 

It wasn’t the weekend anyone was expecting results-wise, but for the Bobcats to come back in the second outing and earn a hard-fought win is a good sign for this team. 

“There’s some things we need to clean up, like every October,” Pecknold said. “We’re working to get better.”

Quinnipiac now has 12 days to prepare for its next matchup, with a weekend off ahead of the start of its ECAC Hockey slate on Nov. 4, against Colgate.