ORONO, Maine — Many doubts as to the identity of the premier team in Hockey East were silenced Sunday night at the Alfond Arena.
Boston College jumped out to an early lead and then turned on the afterburners with a four-goal third period, burying Maine 7-2.
Seven different Eagles scored goals and Scott Clemmensen (14 saves) made the big saves when called upon en route to the victory. BC maintained its position atop the Hockey East standings, improving to 12-3-1, 6-1-1 in conference. The Black Bears dropped back to .500 all around at 6-6-4, 3-3-2.
“I thought we played very well defensively,” BC coach Jerry York said. “We took the play to them and limited their chances.”
Eagles captain Brian Gionta supported his coach’s assessment.
“They didn’t get many opportunities to score,” Gionta said. “When they did, Clemmensen came up big for us.”
Boston College took the sellout crowd out of the game early, scoring at the 2:28 mark of the first period. Eagle freshman Tony Voce corralled a Joe Schulman pass behind the Maine net and flipped his sixth goal of the year in off Black Bear goalie Mike Morrison’s pads.
Four minutes later, Mark McLennan one-timed a Ty Hennes centering pass over Morrison’s glove for a 2-0 lead. At that point, Maine coach Shawn Walsh lifted Morrison in favor of junior Matt Yeats.
“I didn’t want it to get any worse than it was,” Walsh said. “Yeats has been playing well for us lately.”
Yeats kept Maine in the game until the decisive third period, allowing only an Ales Dolinar power-play tally in the second period, a goal that was answered 26 seconds later by Maine forward Kevin Clauson.
After the faceoff following Dolinar’s score, Clauson camped behind the BC net.
“Cliff (Loya) dumped the puck down low,” Clauson said. “I just reached around and stuffed it to the short side.”
The goal breathed new life back into the Black Bears who, despite being outplayed, were only down 3-1 heading into the final period.
“I give my guys credit,” Walsh said. “We’ve got five players out of the lineup and stayed with a great hockey team.”
Maine continued to nip at the Eagles heels until a disputed Jeff Giuliano goal at 12:24 of the third opened the floodgates.
Forward Krys Kolanos, who pushed the puck to freshman Chuck Kobasew (goal, assist), set up the play.
“Chuck drove to the net,” Giuliano said. “I thought he was going to pass it but he shot instead. I got the rebound and flipped it on net. I guess the goal judge thought it was past the line when [Yeats] swept it out.”
Yeats saw things differently.
“The shot hit my glove and caromed off the post,” Yeats said. “It never crossed the line, and I swept it out with my glove.”
Despite a vehement Black Bear protest, referee Jeff Bunyon allowed the goal to stand and BC had a commanding 4-1 lead.
“I think it took some of the wind out of our sails,” Maine’s Clauson said.
“I’m not sure it would have made a difference,” Black Bear co-captain A.J. Begg said. “They are a great hockey team and they played a great game.”
Twenty seconds later, Eagle Rob Scuderi added an unassisted goal that gave BC a four-goal lead.
At that point, Walsh lifted Yeats for third goaltender Trapper Clark. Clark was immediately tested as BC went on the power play. At 15:12, Eagle freshman Ben Eaves converted a Brooks Orpik feed with the man-advantage and the rout was on.
Kobasew added a shorthanded marker less than two minutes later to put the finishing touches on a superb Eagle performance. Maine’s Matthias Trattnig notched his seventh goal of the season in the waning minutes to close out the scoring.
Asked about the key to the game, Gionta was adamant.
“Getting those two early goals was huge,” Gionta said. “It’s important to get the lead in this place, because they can score goals quickly.”
Walsh was impressed with the BC performance.
“They clearly are the standard that we’re trying to reach,” Walsh said. “Were not as good as that team right now. I like the way they play. I think that even if we’d have had everyone tonight, we wouldn’t have beaten them.”