Quinnipiac Men’s Hockey “Buys in,” Tops Maine 4-3


Photos: Liz Flynn

Jacob Shiffer

After their loss on Friday night, Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey head coach Rand Pecknold spoke of the team’s need to buy into their identity. That message was heard loud and clear as the Bobcats rolled to a 4-3 win over the Maine Black Bears on Saturday to split the weekend series.

“I just thought we bought-in a lot more,” Bobcats sophomore forward Michael Lombardi said. “Guys were forechecking, doing the little things. We didn’t see as much of it last night unfortunately, but as a group we just want to start playing more to our identity.”

The teams combined for four goals in the first seven minutes of the game. Maine started the goal party when junior defenseman J.D. Greenway earned his third assist of the season on a breakaway pass to sophomore forward Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup who scored his first goal of the season.

It was the last time the Bobcats fell behind all game.

The Bobcats responded 38 seconds later when Lombardi tied the game with a shot from the left side of the ice that slipped past the Black Bears’ freshman goaltender, Matthew Thiessan, who made his debut tonight. The goal was Lombardi’s first of the season.

“We talk about getting pucks on net a lot,” Lombardi said. “Desi [Burgart] came through and he had a nice chip and I just tried to skate into it. Honestly, I was trying to throw it on net but lucky enough it went in.”

The Bobcats kept the pressure on and scored a couple of minutes later off a Black Bears turnover when sophomore forward William Fallstrom deflected a pass to the front of the net where freshman forward Ethan Leyh was there to put it away for the 2-1 lead. It was the second career goal for the freshman who has found a way to fit in with the team early on.

“All the older guys are really welcoming me and really showing me of how to be successful in this league and the coaches have too,” Leyh said. “I can’t thank them enough for helping me out with that.

Just 45 seconds later, the rough debut continued for Thiessen. After a battle on the boards, Bobcats junior forward Odeen Tufto passed to junior forward Ethan de Jong who slid the puck to the right of the goaltender for his first goal and point of the season.

That was enough for Black Bears head coach Red Gendron as he pulled Thiessen just over seven minutes into his debut, and replaced him with junior goaltender Jeremy Swayman, who was the key in Friday’s victory. Thiessan finished with just three saves on six shots.

The second period saw the aggressive play of last night’s game resurface as both teams found themselves being checked down to the ice in a shoving match in front of the Black Bears’ goal.

When all was said and done, the sophomore Burgart was given a game misconduct for his cross-check at the beginning of the scrum, forcing the Bobcats into a five on three for the first part of a five-minute major penalty kill.

The Black Bears scored on the two-man advantage almost immediately when Schmidt Svejstrup scored his second goal of the game on a one-timer off the pass from senior forward Tim Doherty.

The Bobcats were able to kill the rest of the five-minute major and padded their lead when Bobcats sophomore forward Wyatt Bongiovanni scored his third goal of the season. Tufto won the faceoff and passed it back to Bongiovanni who took a quick shot that went just left of Swayman and into the net.

“Wyatt’s been really good,” Pecknold said. “He had a great spring, great summer, great fall. He’s committed. I’ve been really happy with him.”

The Black Bears added one more goal when Greenway made a long pass to Doherty who placed a perfect pass in center net for junior forward Eudards Tralmaks who one-timed a rocket into the net, giving him his first goal of the game and his third goal of the weekend series.

The Bobcats closed out the win moving to 3-1 on the season. With three games left before conference play begins, the team knows it has room to improve.

“I still think we need to do a better job of having traffic in front of the goal,” Pecknold said. “I thought it was a little better tonight but these better goaltenders, if they can see it they can stop it so we’re just trying to create that chaos and usually we’ll get some rebound goals.”

It’s clear the team received the coach’s message after the last game. With that message leading them to victory, they’ve made it clear it won’t be forgotten.

“I think the biggest thing moving forward is buying-in,” Leyh said.