ORONO, Maine — Nearly eight months ago, Maine broke the hearts of Boston College fans from Chestnut Hill to Beacon Hill. In one of the most thrilling duels in Frozen Four history, the Black Bears took down favored BC 2-1, leaving the Eagles one game away from a coveted national title shot.
Friday, with summer — and nearly fall — behind them, the Eagles got their long-awaited revenge against Maine with a decisive 3-1 victory at an electric Alfond Arena.
The match, the two squads’ first meeting of the year, played out with the same intensity that fans from both sides have come to expect. In a classic early November duel between the two Hockey East foes; BC rose above a raucous second period to sneak two goals past All American goaltender Jimmy Howard.
For the Eagles, the impressive victory on the road marked their first win at Alfond Arena since 2002. More importantly, Boston College will hold on to the No. 1 ranking in the country against a young Black Bears squad ranked No. 9.
With the victory, Boston College improved to 4-1-1 on the year and 2-0 in Hockey East Competition. For the Black Bears, the loss saw their record fall to 5-5-0 on the year and a disappointing 1-2-0 in the Hockey East Standings.
After the game iconic Boston College head coach Jerry York talked about his team’s performance on the road.
“I thought it was a well played Hockey East game,” said York. “It’s a hard two points to come up here and play, this win makes for a good bus ride back home.”
In game that saw the Black Bears jump out to early lead in the opening minutes of the first period, Boston College rode the always reliable goaltending of Matti Kaltiainen to victory. With the win Kaltiainen improved to 2-1-0 on the year and confirmed his presence as BC’s top netminder.
Although Kaltiainen hauled in a mere 14 saves on the evening, it was his ability to shut down the Black Bears in the final 10 minutes of decision that sealed the victory for the Eagles.
“I thought Kaltiainen was really solid,” said York. “He wasn’t really tested but he made important saves.”
Behind Kaltiainen’s steady play, the Eagles got to a surprisingly suspect Howard. Howard, who dominated Boston College last season in three late victories, including the semifinal win, struggled to shut down a potent Eagles offense.
The backbreaker came halfway through the second period, when the Eagles’ Peter Harrold found the back of the net off a John Adams pass. On a weak shot, Howard saw the puck coast into the bottom left corner of the net to give Boston College the game winner. The goal, at 10:31 of the second, was Harold’s first of the season.
“I went out and tried to get big,” said Howard. “I’ll take the blame for that one, I just didn’t close the pads up quick enough and he went five-hole.”
“I threw it on the net low and I got lucky,” said Harrold. “I was just waiting for my forwards to get down low.”
Howard finished the game with 28 saves.
Harrold also discussed that little matter of revenge.
“It’s a great feeling, we owned them for last year,” said Harrold. “We owned them a loss but it’s tough to come up here and play in Maine, we were just able to get it done.”
It was a game that Howard believes the Black Bears let slip away.
“We came out and we were flying and everything was going well,” said Howard, “but when you’re playing the No. 1 team in the nation you can’t lose your momentum and we did.”
York believed it was his team’s ability to pilfer the talented goalie’s net so successfully that led to the victory.
“If we get three goals on Howard we have done a good job,” said York.
York’s crew secured the win when captain Ryan Shannon stole the puck away from Howard behind the Black Bears net, then wrapped around the goal to shove the puck into a wide-open net at 10:56 of the third period.
The goal, Shannon’s second of the year, was the final nail in the coffin for the Black Bears.
Maine got on the scoreboard first, when scoring dynamo Derek Damon sent a low shot on Kaltiainen, who saw the puck cascade into the bottom of the net. The goal was Damon’s team-leading sixth of the season and the Black Bears’ first power-play goal in two games. Damon was assisted on the play by Mike Lundin at 2:55 in the first.
Boston College pulled even in the second period when talented freshman Dan Bertram rifled a shot past Howard off a Shannon pass. The goal, at 3:56, was Bertram’s fifth.
The Black Bears will hope to bounce back Sunday against a powerful UNH squad at Alfond Arena with the game slated for 2 p.m. BC will relax until next Friday when the Eagles do battle with a feisty Massachusetts team at home.