Quinnipiac winger scores winning goal against UMaine men’s hockey team for second straight season

Posted Jan. 03, 2014, at 10:24 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 03, 2014, at 10:53 p.m.

Jordan Samuels-Thomas has a flair for the dramatic against the University of Maine.

The senior right winger scored with only 1:03 remaining Friday night, lifting eighth-ranked Quinnipiac to a 2-1 men’s hockey victory over the University of Maine at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn.

Samuels-Thomas also had scored the decisive goal for the Bobcats with 1:26 remaining in a 2-1 win at Alfond Arena on Oct. 7, 2012.

“This one stings, for sure,” said Black Bears sophomore Devin Shore. “Any time you go down in a game that late, it’s just tough. They’re a great hockey team and we hung in there, felt like we put together a pretty solid effort.”

On Friday, Samuels-Thomas was camped at the post to the left of Black Bears goaltender Martin Ouellette when a shot from the point by Danny Federico ricocheted off the end boards and back out to Samuels-Thomas. He jammed the puck into the short side for the game-winner.

Cory Hibbeler also picked up an assist on the goal.

“It was a tough bounce,” Shore said of Federico’s shot. “We were kind of packed in our zone and to be honest I think it bounced off my shin pad and off the end board to their player, who was uncontested.”

Kellen Jones scored the other goal for 15-3-4 Quinnipiac, which received a 29-save performance from Michael Garteig, whose efforts included a second-period breakaway stop on freshman Brian Morgan.

The only goal for coach Red Gendron’s UMaine squad (10-7-2) came off the stick of Shore. It was a shorthanded tally.

Senior netminder Ouellette registered 26 saves for the Black Bears, who outshot the Bobcats 30-28. Each team was 0-for-3 on the power play, while the hosts held a 40-25 advantage in faceoffs won.

Gendron said the Bears had ample opportunities to win the game.

“We had a couple breakaways tonight and we had some other chances, but we didn’t finish,” he said.

“It’s a 60-minute game and we had opportunities to finish, some glorious opportunities,” Gendron added. “What we have to learn as a team is that we have to be that much more precise to win on the road.”

UMaine returns to action Jan. 11 at 6:3o p.m. in a Frozen Fenway contest against Hockey East rival Boston University.

Quinnipiac grabbed the lead 2:09 into the second period when Jones picked up an errant clearing pass by Jon Swavely in the circle to Ouellette’s left. His initial shot was stopped by Ouellette, but Jones quickly corralled the rebound and snuck a backhander past Ouellette to his glove (left) side.

Hibbeler was credited with an assist.

Quinnipiac had a chance to extend its lead six minutes later when UMaine’s Eric Schurhamer went off for tripping. Instead, it was the Bears who struck.

Shore and Connor Leen generated a 2-on-1 rush and Leen took the puck below the goal line to Garteig’s right. He slid a pass back in front of the net to the far circle, where Shore rifled a shot into the upper left-hand corner of the goal at the 9:57 mark.

It was the Bears’ seventh shorthanded goal of the season and Shore pushed his points streak to 10 games with his ninth goal of the campaign.

The Bears had a golden opportunity to seize the lead only 20 seconds later. Still a man down, Morgan was sent in on a clean breakaway, but his low snap shot went into Garteig’s body.

The Bears had a 14-8 edge in shots in the period and did a better job on faceoffs after Quinnipiac won 19 of 25 during the first 20 minutes.

The Bobcats carried much of the play in the third period as the Bears were unable to achieve much sustained possession in the Quinnipiac end. They outshot UMaine 11-7.

Ouellette came up huge and kept the game deadlocked with 8:19 left in the third period.

Jones found himself alone in the low slot and pounced on the rebound of a teammate’s shot with Ouellette down and scrambling. Despite having plenty of open net at which to shoot, Jones’ backhander was batted away by Ouellette, who appeared to get the puck with the palm of his stick hand.

“Our kids played their tails off,” Gendron said. “Each and every one of them plays for each other and that’s a really cool thing. They understand that when we lose, they all could have made a difference, a player or two that was better, that could have turned the tide for us.”

UMaine was without three injured regulars in senior defenseman Brice O’Connor and freshman forwards Josh Henke and Blaine Byron.

O’Connor, who had played 28 consecutive games, was replaced on the first defensive pair by Conor Riley, while Bill Norman joined Jake Rutt on the second unit.

The teams played through a scoreless first period during which each registered nine shots on goal with five Grade-A opportunities.

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