ORONO, [nl]Maine — Some rivalries never get old — no matter the year, location or circumstance, they always seem right.
Maine against Boston University is one of those rivalries. On Sunday, the storied programs added another chapter in their fabled series with the Terriers (3-2-0, 3-1-0 Hockey East) narrowly defeating the Black Bears (8-2-0, 3-1-0) by the score of 2-1 before a deflated Alfond Arena.
Sparked by an inspired John Curry, the Terriers snatched their second straight victory over an opponent ranked in the top 10. After the decision, BU head coach Jack Parker had high praise for his opponent.
“I thought it was a heck of a hockey game,” said Parker. “This was the best team we played all year.”
For Maine head coach Tim Whitehead, the outcome was highlighted by several missed opportunities.
“I thought it was a great college game, it was a disappointing result obviously,” said Whitehead. “We felt we could win that game and we had our opportunities so it was little frustrating. They aren’t all going to happen just for us.”
Facing a Maine team which was unbeaten in 18 straight games at home and ranked second in the country, Parker’s squad rode the coattails of netminder Curry.
“The best thing about game tonight was how well John Curry played,” said Parker. “He looked like John Curry of last year, very poised, from the get-go he was like ‘shoot, see what happens.”
Curry recorded 37 saves en route to the victory.
“He was fabulous,” said Maine head coach Tim Whitehead. “He got the first star and I thought he deserved it. He was a rock in there.” The majority of those saves came in the third period, when Curry shutout the lethal Black Bear offense on 19 shots.
The final two minutes saw a flurry of activity in the Terrier defensive zone with Maine pulling goalie Matt Lundin. Assembling a six-man line full of playmakers, the Black Bears put several shots wide and into the glove of Curry.
“They did a good job, especially on that last shift blocking shots and protecting their goalie,” said Maine forward Keith Johnson. “You got to give them credit for doing what they had to do for the win. We just couldn’t get one in there in the third period.”
After the game, Curry cited the Terrier defense as a having a pivotal role in his performance.
“We had some huge blocked shots,” said Curry. “The defense play great. They have a lot of experience now. They are making the difference out there.
“It was definitely my best game this year.”
Helping out Curry on the offense side was feisty Brad Zancanaro, who tallied the eventual game-winner at 16:41 of the second period. On the play, Zancanaro snuck in beneath the Black Bear defense and jammed home an open rebound on Lundin
“It was a nice play by Zanc to go the net and keep driving the net,” said Parker. “We took the defenseman out wide and found him there.”
Maine native John Laliberte throw the puck on net from just above the near faceoff circle after receiving a pass from Brandon Yip.
“In general Zancanaro has been playing like that the whole year; I am glad to see he got rewarded for it,” said Parker.
“Zancanaro did a great job of taking an extra whack at it,” said Whitehead. “It was a great goal for them, a great second effort.”
All afternoon, the Zancanaro line pestered Lundin and the Black Bear defensemen.
“I thought they played very well — obviously they got the game winning goal,” said Parker. “Libby likes to play in his home state and I thought Yip gave us a heck of a game.”
Overall, Parker was pleased with his squad’s level of play.
“The whole team played with more energy and intensity,” he said.
The Black Bears almost knotted the score at 2 when Derek Damon broke free of the BU defense at 11:04 of the third period. With Damon open behind the defense, Curry made another highlight-reel save.
“I thought he was going to go down when I faked it to the backhand, and when I came back on the forehand I thought he would be down and out, and he just threw that right pad out there and made a great save,” said Damon. “What are you going to do?”
The play was typical of the day. “He played really well,” said Johnson. “He made the big saves there in the third period. He is a good goalie in this league and that is what good goalies do.”
All wasn’t yet lost for the Black Bears, who saw their seven-game winning streak snapped. Maine, which has struggled in the opening period all year, scored the first goal at 9:31 of the first period. On the ensuing play, Moore swiped blindly at a bouncing puck off Curry’s leg pad only to see it hit the back of the net.
The played was created after Michel Leveille threaded a behind-the-net pass to Hamilton, who then tipped it off to Tyler. From the point, Tyler rifled the initial shot on Curry.
“It was screened a little bit and it hit me in the chest,” said Curry. “The next thing I knew someone batted it in, I don’t know if from midair. My defenseman didn’t even know how it happened.”
The goal was scored on a Black Bear power play.
Jason Lawrence registered the equalizer at 5:35 of the second after Kevin Kielt rocketed a shot on Matt Lundin. Lawrence pounced on the rebound breaking Lundin’s 164-minute shutout streak.
“I was very impressed with BU’s ability to battle back, take the lead and then hold the lead,” said Whitehead.
Lundin picked up his first loss of the year. The sophomore netminder garnered 18 saves. Maine finished the game 1-for-6 on the power play, while BU went 0-for-3.
The Terriers return to action Friday against UNH, while the Black Bears head off to UMass-Lowell the same day.