BOSTON, Mass. — Not exactly playoff hockey.
At a time of the season when teams typically crank up the defensive intensity and minimize mistakes, Maine and Boston University instead played one of the sloppiest, most bizarre games in recent memory with the Black Bears coming out on top, 9-6.
Maine led 8-3 after two periods, but the Terriers rebounded in the third period to make it 8-6 until a Martin Kariya goal at 17:15 sealed the win.
The game was also marred by an abdominal injury to linesman Bob Bernard, who was taken on a stretcher to Beth Israel Hospital. At the 5:15 mark of the second period, Maine’s Prestin Ryan hip-checked Kenny Magowan into the boards, catching Bernard in the crossfire.
Taking a skate to the midsection, Bernard dropped to the ice instantly and was quickly attended to by BU medical personnel. After a delay of about 15 minutes, he was removed via stretcher. Fellow linesman Tom Fyrer donned the referee armbands and joined John Gravellese in completing the game in a two-ref system.
Bernard is being held at Beth Israel for observation. He suffered no cuts from the skate, but the impact of the blow left doctors looking for potential bruises to internal organs or internal bleeding.
BU freshman defenseman Bryan Miller also suffered a dislocated left shoulder. He is expected to miss at least two or three weeks.
The two teams are now tied for second place in Hockey East, one point behind New Hampshire, which holds one game in hand. Boston University (23-8-2, 15-6-2 HEA) holds the tiebreaker advantage over Maine (20-9-6, 14-5-4 HEA) if the two teams should tie Saturday night’s regular season finale and finish deadlocked at 33 points. BU’s greater number of league wins provides that advantage.
Considering the stakes, the anti-playoff hockey was a major eye-opener.
“It was a crazy game, but any time you can steal some points at Walter Brown Arena, they’re big ones,” said Maine interim head coach Tim Whitehead. “[Saturday] night is going to a very different game. I anticipate low-scoring, tight-checking and hard-hitting.”
BU coach Jack Parker was less accepting of his team’s play, not surprising given the way the Terriers were outskated for the first 40 minutes en route to an 8-3 deficit.
“That was an old-fashioned ass-kicking, I’d say; we weren’t ready to play at that speed and that tempo,” said Parker. “I don’t know if we would have been ready for anybody tonight, but we certainly weren’t ready for Maine.
“They just blitzed us…. There was quite a difference in the intensity and the speed and the poise of Maine versus BU tonight. The score made it look like a better game than it was. It should have been 15-2 probably.”
Niko Dimitrakos led the Maine offense with two goals and three assists along with Colin Shields who added another two goals and two assists. Martin Kariya also generated a goal and three assists, becoming the third member of his family (following Paul and Steve) to score 100 career points.
Ironically, Dimitrakos had originally intended to become a Terrier while attending Matignon High School.
“I was kind of committed to BU, but then things fell apart when I went to prep school [for a post-graduate year],” he said. “So it’s sweet when I come back and beat them.”
A wild first period saw Maine score at 9:18 and 13:54 only to have BU respond with tying goals in under a minute. The Black Bears, who enjoyed a 16-8 shot advantage, got a third goal at 17:22, however, and would hold the lead until the final buzzer.
Dimitrakos started the scoring just six seconds into a power play, taking the deflection of a Shields shot from left point and stuffing it into the open net.
Just 50 seconds later, Brian McConnell’s innocuous looking shot along the ice from the far left hashmarks eluded Maine netminder Mike Morrison, who was likely distracted by a John Sabo screen.
Maine grabbed the lead again on a Robert Liscak shot from the high slot through a screen in front by 6-4, 225-pound Gray Shaneberger.
This time it took the Terriers only 19 seconds to even it, 2-2. Miller, who would later suffer the shoulder injury, took a pass out front from McConnell and roofed it over Morrison’s stacked pad slide. The goal was the freshman’s fourth, three of which have come at Maine’s expense.
Maine took the lead for good at 17:22 when Fields couldn’t control a harmless wrister by Peter Metcalf and Ben Murphy roofed a backhander into the net for a 3-2 lead.
Maine broke the game open in an endless second period during which it scored five goals and chased Fields from the BU nets.
Once again, Dimitrakos opened the period’s scoring on the specialty teams, this time on the penalty kill. Ryan rimmed the puck hard around the boards to Dimitrakos on the left wing. The creative senior broke up ice with Kariya flanking him on the right. Using Kariya as a decoy, Dimitrakos cut in and beat Fields to make it 4-2 at 2:49.
Little more than a minute later, John Ronan chased Fields with a rebound of his own shot in front. BU coach Jack Parker called a timeout and inserted Jason Tapp for Fields.
The breather and new face in the nets did nothing to change the Terriers’ fortunes. Less than a minute after play resumed following Bernard’s injury, Kariya shot from the right faceoff circle and the rebound caromed to Lucas Lawson on the far side, where he put it into the open net.
A Shields slapshot from the point on the power play at 7:32 made it 7-2.
Just 32 seconds later, BU’s Ryan Whitney sent Justin Maiser in on a breakaway and the freshman beat Morrison on a deke.
Shields, however, reestablished the five-goal margin with his 25th goal of the season in the final minute of the period while playing five-on-three.
BU began its third-period comeback with a Jack Baker conversion of a rebound off the back boards at 7:11.
Frantisek Skladany got the Terrier faithful on its feet when he tipped a Chris Dyment shot on the power play at 11:29 and then added another 21 seconds later off a rebound into the slot.
The too-little-too-late comeback stalled, however, when BU went into the penalty box at 15:45 and then died soon after when the advantage became a five-on-three and Kariya converted to make it 9-6.
The two teams complete their regular season with a Saturday night rematch at Walter Brown Arena.