HAMDEN, Conn. — UND took the ice Friday night wearing its road green uniforms. Quinnipiac wore yellow.
The Fighting Hawks even trotted out a guy wearing the No. 8 and Schmaltz on the back of his jersey to take the game's opening faceoff.
The similarities to the 2016 NCAA national championship game ended there.
Quinnipiac overwhelmed UND in the game's opening 13 minutes, blew it open with power-play goals in the second and third periods, and Drake Caggiula, Brock Boeser and Nick Schmaltz weren't there to save the Fighting Hawks this time.
In the first meeting since college hockey's title game five years ago, the Bobcats beat UND 5-2 in front of 3,498 fans in the People's United Center.
Oliver Chau, who transferred this summer after winning a national championship at UMass, scored two goals and added an assist, while defenseman Zach Metsa tallied three assists. Jayden Lee and Florida Panthers draft pick Ty Smilanic also scored for the 3-0-1 Bobcats.
Matteo Costantini and Jake Sanderson scored for UND, which dropped to 3-2.
Coupled with last Saturday's overtime loss to Bemidji State, the Fighting Hawks dropped back-to-back games for the first time in three seasons. The last time that occurred was the 2019 National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs at Denver, a series that came after UND's flight was re-directed to Albuquerque, N.M., because of a blizzard.
UND never lost two straight during its back-to-back Penrose Cup-winning 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
"I think everybody knows their role and job and making sure they do it to the best of their ability," UND coach Brad Berry said. "When you have a few breakdowns with individuals, it leads to the back of the net. We've got to make sure everyone raises their level tomorrow and has a push to get the second half of this series."
Quinnipiac did not allow fans or family members to attend any games last season because of the coronavirus pandemic, so Friday's home opener was the first time fans entered People's United Center in 601 days.
The students packed one end of the venue early and the Bobcats gave them plenty of reasons to get loud. Quinnipiac registered the first eight shots on goal.
"They made a push," Berry said. "It's their first time in their building in 20 months with a packed crowd. We knew they were going to come out and make a push. I think physicality was a big part of that. They were physical. I thought the second part of that period, we were physical and started to take over, which led into the second period and how we wanted to play. Being hard and physical and disciplined is going to be a key."
UND's first shot — a rush up the left wing by Costantini — went in and the Fighting Hawks had a brief lead at 7:44 of the first period, but Quinnipiac kept pushing and tied it before the end of the frame on a goal by Chau. At the time of Chau's goal, shots on goal were 11-2 Bobcats.
"That's definitely not the way we wanted to start," UND captain Mark Senden said. "We wanted to come out a little faster and get some pucks behind their 'D.' That's definitely something we're going to continue to address."
UND began to push back at the start of the second period, but gave up a no-look backhand goal to Joey Cipollone at 5:35. Then, Lee scored a power-play goal at 10:43 of the second and Smilanic scored a five-on-three power-play goal at 9:37 of the third on UND goalie Zach Driscoll (23 saves).
"I think we battled hard, but I think it came down to specialty teams," Senden said. "They won the battle on that front and that's something we're really going to have to focus on. When you get in these games against really tough, good opponents, it's going to come down to specialty teams, and making sure we're ready on the power play and ready on the PK. When we get out there, we have a job to do. I think that's what it came down to. We had a loss on specialty team battles."
In the third period, UND struggled to generate chances.
Quinnipiac goalie Yaniv Perets (14 saves) didn't make a save in the final 16 minutes of the game. Quinnipiac blocked nine UND shot attempts in the third period alone.
"They clog it up with five guys in front of the net," Berry said. "They block a lot of shots. We have to find a way to get them out of lanes. I thought the third period was back-and-forth a little bit. They made a push a little bit part-way through the period. I think it's a situation tomorrow where we've got to be clean in all phases in the game."