HAMDEN, Conn. — Nos. 12 and 13 UNO rallied from a two-goal deficit to twice tie the game, but Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored his second goal early in the third period and No. 9 Quinnipiac held on for a 5-4 nonconference victory Saturday.
The Bobcats (13-3-2) extended their unbeaten streak to 11 games (10-0-1) while UNO (11-7-1) suffered a key loss in a game that could have postseason implications. UNO entered the game No. 18 in the Pairwise rankings, while Quinnipiac was No. 6. The Mavs will seek a split of the two-game series when the teams meet again at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Trailing 4-3 entering the third period, the Mavericks tied the game just 38 seconds in. Ryan Walters charged the net and knocked in the rebound of a shot by Dominic Zombo for his team-leading 11th goal of the year.
But just 3:09 later, Samuels-Thomas finished off a 4-on-3 rush by firing a shot past Anthony Stolarz.
The Bobcats wasted little time getting on the board. Samuels-Thomas took advantage of a turnover behind the Mavericks’ net and slipped a shot past Stolarz just 1:54 into the game.
Quinnipiac doubled its lead 1:44 later when Matthew Peca raced down the right wing, cut around the UNO defense and lifted a shot over the glove hand of Stolarz.
The Mavericks’ best chance of the period came while short-handed. Matt White fired a shot from the low slot that hit the far post and bounced away.
UNO finally got on the board early in the second period when White took a pass from Johnnie Searfoss and raced in on goalie Eric Hartzell. White finessed a shot under the 6-foot-4 goalie for his 10th goal of the season, extending his goal-scoring streak to five games and his point-scoring streak to six.
Ben Arnt scored from a sharp angle to give the Bobcats a 3-1 lead, but the Mavs found a way to tie the game.
First Searfoss picked up the puck off an odd bounce and fired a shot under Hartzell for a power-play goal. Quinnipiac had come into the game with the third-best penalty-killing unit in the country with a 94.8 percent success rate (73 of 77). UNO was 1 for 3 with the man advantage.
Then, off an offensive zone faceoff, Brian O’Rourke scored his first collegiate goal. Tanner Lane, who won the faceoff, earned his first collegiate point.
With top-line center Brock Montpetit out with a leg injury, O’Rourke — a sophomore defenseman — was pressed into duty at center, alongside Lane and with freshman defenseman Brian Cooper on the other wing.
White and Brent Gwidt, natural wingers, also centered their respective lines.
With just over a minute remaining in the second period, the Bobcats retook the lead at 4-3. UNO lost the puck behind its net, and Kellen Jones fed Kevin Bui, who hammered home his first goal of the year.
The Mavs outshot the Bobcats 37-30. Quinnipiac came in leading the NCAA in fewest shots allowed, averaging just over 20 per game. But Hartzell, second nationally in goals against average (1.29) and win percentage (.812) coming into the game, made 33 saves to improve to 13-2-2.
Stolarz (2-5) took the loss with 25 saves.