ORONO, Maine — There are some nights when a tie can feel like a win. For Jack Parker and his Boston University Terriers, Friday night in Alfond Arena exemplified that feeling.
“We were very, very fortunate to get that point, there’s no question about that,” said Parker.
Fortune had smiled on BU with 1:41 remaining in the third period when Pat Aufiero’s dump-in flip from the blue line deflected off Maine defenseman Doug Janik’s stick and past a stunned Matt Yeats, tying the score at three.
The goal put the finishing touch on a BU comeback that saw the Terriers erase a 3-1 Black Bear lead in the game’s final five minutes. The Terriers are now 7-10-2 overall (5-5-2 Hockey East). Maine is 9-7-6 (4-4-4).
“I hate it when the game is decided by a freak goal,” said Yeats. “But it happened; you just try to forget it and come back tomorrow night.”
Aufiero never saw the goal. Taking a Maine dump-in behind his own net, the BU defenseman streaked up ice toward the Black Bear end.
“I saw their forechecker moving toward me and I saw [John] Sabo going hard to the net,” said Aufiero. “I just flipped it toward the net, hoping for a rebound. I turned around to head up ice and heard the celebration.”
The dump-in appeared to be going wide and Yeats moved to his left to collect the puck. As he did, Janik reached out and deflected it to Yeats’ right and into the empty cage.
“We played well enough to win,” said Maine coach Shawn Walsh. “Unfortunately we got a tie out of it, but that’s the way college hockey is.”
The Terriers were put in position to tie the game at 15:41 of the third period, when Sabo redirected a Carl Corazzini centering pass behind Yeats (15 saves), cutting the Maine lead to 3-2.
“It was a bad [line] change,” said Walsh. “One of our freshmen made a mistake and they capitalized. That goal at the end was a mistake too,” Walsh added. “You can’t let Aufiero skate that long by himself.”
“We seem to have two or three breakdowns each game,” said Maine forward Matthias Trattnig. “It’s everybody, not just one or two players. When that happens, teams make you pay.”
Trattnig had countered Terrier defenseman Freddy Meyer’s first-period tally at the 8:00 mark of the second to knot the game at one. The goal came on the power play and sparked the Black Bears.
Five minutes later, with Maine again enjoying the man-advantage, Janik ripped a slapshot through traffic to give the Black Bears a 2-1 lead.
Maine forward Chris Heisten (two assists), returning to the lineup after a knee injury sustained at BU one month ago, helped the Black Bears to a two-goal advantage with a nifty feed at the 16:34 mark.
The puck was loose along the right wing boards when Heisten found defenseman A.J. Begg cruising down the slot.
“I looked in front and found A.J. all alone,” Heisten said. “No one was on me — it was an easy pass.” Begg’s one-timer beat Terrier goalie Sean Fields (31 saves) between the pads.
Fields was making his first start at Alfond Arena and if he felt nervous, he wasn’t admitting it.
“It was fun,” said Fields. “The crowd was great and I got tested early, which kind of got me going.”
“Sean kept us in the game,” said Parker. “He played well tonight.”
Fields made a save on Black Bear forward Michael Schutte with 11 minutes remaining that proved to be a huge key in the tie.
With Maine ahead 3-1, Janik threaded a pass between the BU defense, putting the puck on Schutte’s stick as he broke in alone on Fields.
“I went backhand,” said Schutte. “I tried to go upstairs, and it was headed there, but he got a pad on it.”
Fields said, “I knew what he was going to do and I tried a poke check that didn’t work. I just stayed low and spread out and got it with the pad.”
“This is a huge point,” said Parker. “We played as well as we’ve played all season in the first period and gave it up in the second. We kept working and things worked out. It will give us momentum going into tomorrow night.”
Maine and BU will conclude their regular-season play with another game at the Alfond on Saturday night.