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Men’s ice hockey stuns #3 Quinnipiac in 4-0 rout

The Alfond was electric on Saturday night as the University of Maine Black Bears men’s ice hockey team topped off a great day of hockey with a 4-0 win against the ECAC powerhouse, the Quinnipiac Bobcats. 

The Bobcats were the heavy favorites going into the contest, having unseated the previous #3 team, North Dakota, by way of a tie and a 6-2 blowout in their previous doubleheader. Expectations for UMaine were especially low after losing to Bentley, 5-1. However, in this game it was all Black Bears, with four goals in the third period propelling the underdogs to a massive upset. 

Despite the final score seeming a bit lopsided, the first two periods of the game ended at a 0-0 deadlock. UMaine’s defense played at the top of their game, killing three penalties without allowing a goal. Third-year goaltender Victor Östman and graduate student defenseman Jakub Sirota were key when it came to stopping the lethal Quinnipiac offense. Östman contributed multiple acrobatic saves, and Sirota performed a miraculous move across the crease to smack a Quinnipiac shot away from the open net in what seemed like a surefire scoring opportunity for the Bobcats. 

It wasn’t until just over three minutes into the third period that the scoring started, as second-year forward Cole Hanson pounced on a loose rebound in the low slot to put the Black Bears up 1-0. This was the first goal allowed by second-year goaltender Yaniv Perets, who finished the night with 30 saves.

Three more goals soon followed Hanson’s. To start, fourth-year forward Ben Poisson sent a wrist shot screaming past Perets, after receiving a beautiful tape-to-tape pass from third-year forward Lynden Breen with seven minutes to go. The goal was scored on the power play and marked UMaine’s first goal scored with a man advantage this year. 

From that point forward, there was no looking back. The Black Bears poured on the offense as fourth-year forward Matthew Fawcette scored on a breakaway, made possible by a great outlet pass from third-year forward Donovan Villenueve-Houle. This goal was of special importance to Fawcette, as he transferred from Quinnipiac this past offseason. 

A three-goal lead against the nation’s #3 team was not satisfactory for the Black Bears, though. With just under three minutes to go in the game, second-year forward Nolan Renwick slammed a beautiful one-time slap shot into the back of the net. No spectator was left seated as the goal horn sounded for the fourth time that night. 

Östman racked up an outlandish 33 saves in the shutout performance, making multiple seemingly impossible saves to keep his team in it. Luckily for Östman, the offense was able to back up his efforts in the 3rd period and help him secure the shutout.

On paper, such a blowout was nothing short of a miracle for the Black Bears, who were ranked dead last in the Hockey East preseason poll. However, Orono’s faithful know better than to count this team out, especially at home. The atmosphere in the Alfond Arena certainly helped motivate a Black Bear squad who were sorely in need of a supportive crowd after a couple of consecutive road losses. 

The men’s team has more doubters to prove wrong, as they will play two in-conference doubleheaders against nationally ranked teams in Northeastern and the University of Connecticut after the Quinnipiac series concludes.

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