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College Hockey:
Maine power play comes up empty again

Maine hoped to capitalize on nearly eleven minutes of extra-man play – and the Eagles’ temporarily stick-less goaltender – in Sunday’s matinee against No. 10 Boston College.

The Black Bears, however, never had a chance.

Maine’s power play struggled mightily against the Eagles’ intractable penalty kill, failing to score in five man-advantage opportunities and bringing their power play production to a woeful 0-for-12 for the series.

The Black Bears even failed to convert on a 6-on-5 when they pulled netminder Dan Sullivan, allowing BC winger Barry Almeida to pot an empty netter – his first goal of the season – at 17:51 in the final frame to put the Eagles up 4-1.

But Maine’s inability to solve Eagles’ goaltender John Muse with the extra man was never so obvious as the Black Bears’ failure to score during BC blueliner Edwin Shea’s hooking penalty at 2:27 in the third period.

The Eagles withstood intense pressure from Maine’s power play unit – including a blistering shot from forward Joey Diamond from the right corner. Diamond, who already has two power play goals this season, could not find the net, even when Muse temporarily lost his stick and the replacement he grabbed from BC defenseman Patch Alber.

After the blanking at the hands of the Eagles, the Black Bears’ power play (6-for-43) is tied for sixth with Merrimack in Hockey East, with a conversion percentage of only 13.95%. And what’s worse, Maine has only converted three of its last 34 power play opportunities in its last five games, a success rate just shy of 9%.

While not making excuses for its man-advantage struggles, the absence of Will O’Neill and Jeff Dimmen on the penalty kill hurt the Black Bears. Both defensemen, who figure prominently in Maine’s special teams, sat out the series due to lower-body injuries.

“[The power play] was better tonight,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “But there’s no doubt we missed [Will] O’Neill and [Jeff] Dimmen on that.”

Maine’s struggles, however, are not solely to blame for its poor showing on the man advantage.

“BC has a great penalty kill,” Whitehead said. “They’re exceptional, they’re aggressive, and they put pressure on us. They have some real good depth on their team. And one of the things that’s very impressive is that they can use guys in all situations. Guys that may not be on the power play are providing great leadership on the penalty kill and that is something we are striving for.”

BC’s penalty kill unit, currently second in the nation, has killed 64 of 71 power play opportunities. In fact, the Eagles have stymied their opponents 90.1% of the time, just a fraction of a point off of Niagara’s nation-leading 90.2% success rate.

One key to BC’s success in avoiding power play goals is its depth on special teams.

“We can go almost all the way down the bench killing penalties,” BC coach Jerry York said. “It’s not just always Cam [Atkinson] and Brian [Gibbons], we’ve got Billy Arnold and Barry Barry Almeida, [Jimmy] Hayes and [Chris] Kreider…so we’re getting pretty deep there.”

On the heels of his 68th career victory and his 10th career shutout, Muse continues to be BC’s not-so-secret weapon on the penalty kill.

“A lot of [the penalty kill] reflects back on John [Muse],” York said. “He made some really good saves over the course of the weekend but especially on power plays. … The 0-for-12 was more of a result of our excellent goaltending and some timely blocks by our defensemen.”

With the sweep of Maine, BC’s first series win since downing Denver twice on October 15-16th, the Eagles have jumped the Black Bears and moved into second in the Hockey East standings. Unless Maine finds a way to solve the Eagles’ impenetrable penalty kill, the Black Bears’ winless streak against BC — Maine last defeated the Eagles 2-1 on November 9, 2008 — will likely continue.

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  • MVNewHaven

    Don’t know what Coach Allain tells them during the first intermission but Yale has been lights out after the first period. Through the first four games they have a GD of 0 in the 1st (7-7), but a GD of +13 (17-4) in the 2nd and 3rd.

  • WildmanDan

    Yes. No idea what he says. But it was like a different team came out in the second period. I didn’t see them contesting the puck at all as QU tried to bring it out of their own in end in the first period. But immediately in the second they were bringing pressure at all points on the ice. They also looked a step slow in the first period. After that it was just amazing.

    I wonder if some of the issue was that Yale was still only playing in their second weekend of competition. They will have to be on top of their game next weekend against very solid squads out west.

    • Bulldog07

      Agreed. Yale traditionally seems to start slow and then build up steam towards the end of games. But I would not want to see them spot CC a 3 goal lead in the first and have to fight back this weekend.

  • Lonesomegator

    Brian, really enjoy your comments, and predictions. Iam a long time fan of Colgate, and listen to Raider games on TeamLine every season. Since 1980 I’ve lived in Florida, and I have to say don’t miss the frozen tundra of Central New York at all. As a teenager I have many happy memories of Hamilton as I visited my older sister who lived there, and had a job in the theature Dept at Colgate. Attending a few games at Starr Rink which I remember was a Hockey rink in a large barn. Tell me is it still the same? Any way keep up the good work, and stay warm.

  • UMaineBLACKBEARS

    Yeah that makes tons of sense, because the ONLY way to beat BC is if you can score on the power play? I WILL make excuses and say it, not having Will O’Neill and Jeff Dimmen playing on the ice and on special teams really does HURT, they don’t even resemble anything that looks like the same Nation Leading Maine Power Play when those guys aren’t on the ice. Good weekend for BC though (they really needed those games more then Maine did with 4 losses already on the season) But I was at Sundays game and Maine outplayed BC the entire game and really made them look like the inferior team but it just goes to show you what EXCELLENT (muse) goal tending can do for your team and how TERRIBLE (sullivan) goal tending can hurt your team. I am a huge Maine fan and even I will admit that John Muse has to be one of the best if not the best goal tender in the country right now. That kid is AMAZING to watch, and was very impressive this weekend and was the only reason Maine didn’t come away with any points from this series. So congrats to BC for the nice wins and THANK GOD John Muse is a senior this year!

  • Sterlippo

    you’re right, it was way more important for BC but i think you are being to harsh on your goalie, he did not play badly at all………….

    • UMaineBLACKBEARS

      What games were you watching? I watched both games and he played TERRIBLE. how do you give up 4 goals on on 18 shots and say that he didn’t play badly? Not to mention he basically gift wrapped one goal for BC when he played the puck behind the net and passed right to Brian Gibbons who just shot into an empty net. Sunday was no different, Maine played extremely well, well enough to earn a win but Sullivan gave up 3 goals and most were soft

  • Jimmy1414

    Hope these writers are doing volunteer work. They certainly don’t work like they’re being paid! The lack of coverage continues!

  • Bulldog07

    Brian…it’s Ingalls Rink, not Ingalls Arena. I think that’s what he was getting at. But it was a good recap otherwise!

  • ECACWriter

    I know he was getting on my case for that, but it was a 2am write-up. I’m not going to prostrate myself before the jury for confusing “rink” with “arena” this time. Now, if I had been writing this at noon, you’d all get cookie baskets with my deepest apologies…

  • collegehockeyfan

    Here I’ll do a rundown:
    UND- where they were expected to be. Dell is a surprise, see if it stays that way, easy schedule the rest of the year, if they can stay out of injury and suspension trouble, #1 in the WCHA and my pick from the wcha most likely to make the title game

    UMD- 1st line doing their thing, goal tending holding their own, should stay in the top three in the WCHA and top ten in the nation the rest of the year if they stay healthy.

    DU – surprise here with all the lost talent, young guys stepping up, especially in the net. Gwoz will always put a team out that will compete, no matter the age.

    UNO- opened some eyes early, but seems like they have blue-flamed, will down spiral as they are getting used to the WCHA grind. Blais will get them motivated and may beat some upper echelon teams, but will not finish in the top half of the WCHA because of inconsistent play.

    CC- rough start, some young talent, I think they will turn some heads second half of the year, may see them in the national tournament, my sleeper pick for the tourny.

    UM- can you say inconsistent??? tough to say how the rest of this season will go, especially after their series up at UND, where they have crumbled in years past. Wish I could say Bye Bye Lucia after this year.

    UW- I would say they are a small disappointment, getting embarrassed at home to UND and UMD, but their schedule lightens up the second half, I would say they will creep in the 5 spot, earning a home playoff series for the final five.

    UAA- Extremely pesky team to try and sweep, look for them to finish in the lower half, but wouldn’t surprise me if they upset someone and are in Minneapolis for the Final Five.

    MSU- About normal for the Mavs around this time of year, couple big wins, but still not going to get them out of the first round of the final five.

    BSU- definitely feeling the transition, wont do anything this year, look for them to slowly creep up in the WCHA in future years.

    SCSU – WOW, talk about the underachiever of the decade… not much else to say, goal tending is god awful, and the Roe diving act is no longer working, throw in the towel, there’s always next year.

    MTU- yeah they won a couple NC games early against mediocre at best teams, will finish at the bottom.