ORONO, MAINE — It was a playoff atmosphere in every way at Alfond Arena on Friday as the Boston University Terriers came to Orono for a huge early-season showdown with the Maine Black Bears. Scoring chances abounded, tempers flared, goaltenders made spectacular saves, and penalties were few and far between.
Down to the home Black Bears 2-0 early in the third period, the Terriers stormed back, collecting three unanswered goals, all by defensemen, including the tying and winning goals from freshman Bryan Miller in a stunning 3-2 come-from-behind win.
“I just kind of got the bounces tonight, I guess,” Miller said. The goals were the first two of his collegiate career. “Those couldn’t have come at a better time.”
The first period was kept scoreless with some heroics in both nets. BU’s Sean Fields made a few outstanding glove saves in the early going to keep things 0-0.
Maine’s Mike Morrison made the best save of the night on a Mike Pandolfo breakaway midway through the period. He deked to his backhand and dropped Morrison to the ice at the near post. It appeared as though Pandolfo would have the whole net to shoot at, but Morrison flailed out his stick and made a miraculous save.
Maine got on the board early in the second period on a heads-up play by Morrison. BU dumped the puck into the corner for a line change. Morrison came out of the net and fired a pass to Niko Dimitrakos, who was all alone at the BU blue line.
Dimitrakos skated to the left faceoff circle and ripped a slapshot that hit Fields in the shoulder and trickled past him just inside the post to give Maine the lead 1:01 into the period.
Maine held that lead until the third, when the Black Bears added to it and appeared as though they would take control of the hockey game.
Lucas Lawson found the puck in a scrum along the right wing boards near the corner. He fired a pass to the slot, but no one was there to receive it. It bounced off the left wing boards to freshman Paul Lynch at the point. He rocketed a slapshot toward the net. Tom Reimann was able to get a stick on it and tip it over Fields at 1:07 to put Maine up by two.
That’s when things changed.
The Terriers won the next faceoff and pressured Maine. Freddy Meyer blocked a weak clearing attempt at the point, holding the puck in and throwing it toward the net. Morrison got it with his stick, but not enough to knock it wide. It ended up top-shelf at 1:43.
“I just slid it toward the net,” Meyer said of his goal. “Everything you put on net counts. Luckily, it bounced in.”
Morrison said the shot caught him by surprise.
“I made the initial save and I was shaking it off,” he said. “It went back to the point and he fired it. I was trying to direct it out of harm’s way and into the corner, but it hit a bad angle off my stick and went over my shoulder.”
BU coach Jack Parker thought the goal was a major turning point.
“We answered right away. They made it 2-0, we answered, and make it 2-1 within a minute. That was the biggest goal of the game,” Parker said.
“It was a good bounce-back goal for them,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “Goals were hard to come by tonight. We took a couple of shifts off, and we paid for it.”
The Terriers wasted little time in tying the score.
Miller pinched in to get to a loose puck. Morrison stopped his initial shot, but he chased the rebound and somehow snuck the puck between Morrison’s pad and the post to tie things at 4:23.
“I kind of batted at it while I was trying to get back to my [defensive] position, and it just trickled through short side,” Miller said.
Maine had a golden opportunity to win the game in regulation when Chris Dyment was forced to haul down Dimitrakos to prevent a breakaway with 40 seconds left. That put Maine on the power play for the end of regulation and the start of overtime, but the BU defense cleared pucks away and Fields made the saves he needed to.
Under a minute after the successful kill, BU got a rush the other way. Maine’s Cliff Loya got control of the puck and appeared as though he would clear the puck out of the zone, but his attempt went directly onto the stick of John Cronin. He used the opportunity to fire a quick shot on Morrison. He made the save, but left a rebound for Miller, who pinched in and hammered under Morrison’s right arm to give the Terriers the overtime win at 2:16.
“They stole that game from us,” Whitehead said of the loss. “When we built that 2-0 lead, I felt we were in pretty good control of the game. We took a couple shifts off, and that’s all it takes against a good team like BU.”
“I thought it was a great game,” Parker said. “We played a pretty smart game. Coming back and tying it up, weathering a power play and then getting the winner is a good way … to drive out of Orono tonight.”
Miller put the win in perspective. “This is a huge win. Not just for Hockey East standings, but for the national standings. We’re trying to take one game at a time, and we’re doing pretty well so far. We have a team that doesn’t give up.”
BU, now 5-0-1 (3-0-1 Hockey East) will visit Yale for a nonconference tilt on Tuesday night, while Maine (3-4-1, 1-1-0) will look to rebound at home in a nonconference game against Sacred Heart on Sunday.