Orono, Maine — There was no quit in the Black Bears.
Maine (3-0-0) spotted No. 3 Quinnipiac (1-1-1) leads of 2-0 and 3-1, but a young and feisty team battled back. The Black Bears scored three times in the third period and once in overtime to earn a hard-fought 4-3 victory over the Bobcats Friday evening at Alfond Arena in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,125.
“We really harped on our intensity. The guys really came together. We responded and rallied behind each other,” said senior defenseman Eric Schurhamer of the team’s second consecutive come from behind win. “We have a bit more swagger and belief in the locker room. We found a way to win.”
Two power play goals 1:06 apart just over the halfway point of the game gave the Bobcats a 2-0 lead. Andrew Taverner scored his second of the season at the 12:09 mark on a 5-on-3. Thomas Aldworth extended the lead for the visitors on the man advantage with 6:45 to play in the second period.
Sophomore defenseman Chase Priskie, a Washington Capitals prospect, had the primary assist on both power play tallies.
“Chase was really good tonight. He had good legs. He had good jump. He was making good reads and good decisions. That power play unit was really good tonight,” said Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold.
Maine finally got on the board 5:49 into the third period with a power play strike of its own. Mitch Fossier worked the puck to the point where Eric Schurhamer sent a purposeful wrist shot on net. The shot was saved, but Nolan Vesey, who was camped out front, pushed home the rebound.
The Black Bears were swarming, and had a few near misses in the ensuing minutes, but couldn’t strike gold. Instead, it was Quinnipiac who regained its two-goal lead at the 11:31 mark. Tanner McMaster batted home a juicy rebound of Connor Clifton’s shot.
Maine freshman Patrick Shea, who drew three penalties to the opposition on the night, had a hand in the next two goals as the Black Bears knotted the score. On a transition play, he sent a perfect pass from the right wall out to Schurhamer who shot it home to cut the deficit in half with 6:55 to play.
The game-tying goal was all about perseverance. The Florida Panthers prospect brought the puck up ice from the left wing at his own blue line. Shea cut across into the slot where he fired a shot that was saved. However, he kept at it and got just enough on a rebound attempt to send the puck sliding into the net with 4:53 left in regulation.
“I took it in. Coach was yelling ‘shoot, shoot, shoot’ the whole game. I shot it on net. I followed it up, whacked at it and somehow it ended up in the net,” said Shea.
“[Shea] is a tank,” Gendron added. “He was playing well.”
The game would head to overtime where Shea would indirectly affect the outcome once again. He drew a penalty on Quinnipiac’s Taverner 1:32 into the extra session to set up Maine’s 12th power play of the game.
After Gendron called timeout, Maine would control the puck in its attacking zone. Schurhamer sent a sauce pass across to Mitch Fossier at the left circle. He corralled the puck and fired a wrist shot that hit the post before bouncing into the net to send the homecoming crowd at Alfond Arena into a frenzy.
“There was some traffic at the point. Schurhamer found the seam to me. I tried to get it off quickly. I think it hit off the post and off [the goaltender’s] back. It was a fortunate play,” said Fossier, who has scored the game-winner in each of Maine’s three games this season.
Maine’s Rob McGovern stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faced for his third win of the season while Quinnipiac’s Chris Truehl made 26 saves in defeat.
“[McGovern] made some big saves. Their goalie made some saves. When you take the game in total, it was an incredibly competitive game,” Gendron said.
The two teams will meet again Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the series finale. If it’s anything like Friday night, fans will get their money’s worth.
“[Friday’s game] was a well-played game. People were blocking shots on both sides. It was gritty. It was a battle. People on both sides had to fight for every inch of ice. It was a couple of teams battling like crazy,” said Gendron.
“That was a great college hockey game,” Gendron added.