ORONO — Things went from bad to worse in a hurry for the University of Maine hockey team Friday night.

Tenth-ranked Quinnipiac scored just 30 seconds after the opening draw and never trailed, skating to a 7-2 win over the Black Bears in a non-conference game at Alfond Arena. Sophomore center Odeen Tufto was a buzzsaw from start to finish, completing his hat trick before the second period was over as part of a five-point night.

The two teams complete their weekend series Saturday at 7:30.

“Confidence is big,” said Tufto, who notched his first career five-point game with a pair of first-period tallies and a key late second-period goal. “When we’re playing the way we’ve been playing, you get a lot more of it up and down the lineup.”

Through two periods, the Black Bears had dominated nearly every statistical category save for the scoreboard — outshooting the Bobcats by 2-to-1 margin, winning nearly 70 percent of the faceoffs and watching the visitors wear a path to the penalty box.

All of that was of little consequence to Quinnipiac (10-2-0), modern analytics be damned. Junior netminder Andrew Shortridge made 33 saves, 16 of those in a first period from which the Bobcats emerged with a 2-0 lead.

“Strange game, good win. Interesting,” said Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold, whose team avenged a two-game sweep at the hands of Maine last season. “I thought Maine was really good in the first… I thought Shortridge’s first period was the key to the game.”

Maine (4-6-1) had whittled into an early three-goal deficit when Chase Pearson potted his team-leading eighth goal of the season with under seven minutes remaining in the second period, finishing off a 2 on 1 feed from Mitchell Fossier to make it a 3-1 hockey game.

The Black Bears then were handed a glorious opportunity with a power play inside the final three minutes of the stanza, and produced one of their most productive man advantages of the season. But Maine couldn’t solve Shortridge, who served as his team’s best penalty killer. Shortridge finished with10 shorthanded saves among his 33 stops, all through the first 40 minutes.

Shortridge’s wall set the stage for a back-breaking goal from Quinnipiac.

Defenseman Luke Shiplo took a home run pass as he stepped out of the penalty box and set up Alex Whelan for a one-timer from the left circle which forced Maine’s Jeremy Swayman (22 saves) into action.

Shiplo was hauled down by Black Bear Eduards Tralmaks on the play, and the Bobcats cashed in when Tufto had an easy tap-in to complete his hat trick for a 4-1 Quinnipiac lead with only 6.8 seconds remaining in the second.

“That’s a huge goal. I feel like that’s a backbreaker,” Shortridge said. “You could see the energy just drain from the (Maine) bench.”

The Black Bears never recovered and showed few signs of life in the third period. It took them 15 minutes to register two shots on goal, and the Bobcats added three scores in the period — all in the final 10 minutes.

“We didn’t defend well early in the game,” Maine coach Red Gendron said. “In may ways, for two periods we played pretty well, but we made very egregious mistakes defensively and that was that.”

“I think they outworked us in certain areas in the first two periods, but we capitalized on our chances,” Tufto said. “I think that fourth goal probably did put a little bit of a dagger in them.”

Ethan deJong, Wyatt Bongiovanni and Joe O’Connor all scored in the final period for the Bobcats, around a Ryan Smith 4-on-4 goal with five minutes remaining.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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