Playing without standouts Billy Ryan, Brett Tyler, and Michel Lveill due to injuries, Maine was shorthanded before they took the ice. Boston University ended up shorthanded several times after they took the ice but scored two key goals during Maine power plays on the way to a sloppy but entertaining 5-3 victory before 5,145 at Agganis Arena.
BU linemates Peter MacArthur, Kenny Roche, and Bryan “Boomer” Ewing each contributed a goal and an assist in the victory, while Derek Damon led the way for Maine with a goal and two assists.
“It couldn’t have been any more different than last night’s game in so many ways,” Terrier coach Jack Parker said. “I don’t think the goaltending was as sharp as it was last night for either team. In our case, the penalty killing wasn’t anywhere near where we want to be.
“All in all, we weren’t thorough. They gave us some breaks; we gave them some breaks that you usually don’t see in a BU-Maine game. It wasn’t because of the emotion of the crowd or the emotion of the game; it was just turnovers or bad reads or whatever it might be.”
As Maine coach Tim Whitehead pointed out, tonight’s game was almost the mirror image of last night’s matchup-except for the fact that BU emerged on top in each case.
“It was a disappointing weekend obviously with the results but at the same time I was really impressed with Boston University’s club,” Whitehead said. “Every time we bounced back, they bounced back. I thought they were very resilient this weekend. The first night they bounced back in the second period after we started out strong. Tonight each time they scored, we scored, we bounced back but so did they. So I thought it was a very entertaining game, that’s for sure.
“What cost us I think was shorthanded goals. Our power play was very effective except for the fact that we gave up two shorthanded goals. So really in the end it’s a wash: three special-team goals for both teams. As good as our power play was, it was also our downfall.”
Seventeen minutes into a tightly-played first period, BU took the lead with its first shorthanded goal, as John Laliberte set up a two-on-one with Dan Spang carrying the puck in on the left-wing side and MacArthur crashing the net.
“I was the beneficiary of two great plays by two great seniors,” MacArthur said. “Libs stepped up on the opposing blue line and clogged up the ice, so they couldn’t get in. Spanger jumped up on the rush and made a perfect pass. I didn’t even move my stick off the ice; he just put it right on the backhand for me.”
On the same power play, Maine struck back. Damon passed the puck to Josh Soares at the right point for a seeing-eye shot that went through the crowded slot and found the net high on goalie John Curry’s glove side. The netminder never saw it.
This set the stage for a wild second period. Just nine seconds into a Maine power play, BU freshman Chris Higgins stole the puck just inside the Terrier zone. He raced down the ice and beat towering freshman goalie Ben Bishop with a low five-hole shot for the 2-1 lead.
Once again, Maine tied the game on the same power play on a nearly identical goal to its first tally. This time Chris Hahn fired a wrister through traffic to beat the screened Curry high on the glove side.
Just 43 seconds after that-and only seven seconds into a Terrier power play-BU regained the lead. Ewing got the puck behind the goal line and flipped a backhanded pass into the slot. Roche was left all alone and buried another low shot from cloase range.
“We’re not communicating real well; that’s not one of our strengths,” Whitehead said. “Whether we’re healthy or not, that’s an area in which we’ve got to improve.
“Obviously you want to protect the front of the net, not the back of the net. So yeah, they were out of position.”
That lead lasted a little more than two minutes, thanks to yet another Maine power-play shot through traffic. This time Greg Moore tipped a Mike Lundin shot past Curry.
“We just weren’t focused mentally,” MacArthur said. “When you’re focused, you don’t score a goal and then give one up right away three times. You get another goal and another goal.”
However, BU got the lead back just 71 seconds later. Reminiscent of the first Terrier goal, Brandon Yip raced in on the left wing and slipped a last-second cross to Sean Sullivan who crashed the far post for a nifty tap-in.
Ewing rounded out the scoring on a back-breaking soft goal with just 1:39 left in the period. His 25-foot shot beat Bishop through the five-hole again to make it 5-3. Bishop was pulled after the period in favor of Matt Lundin, who held the Terriers scoreless the rest of the way, raising the possibility of Lundin playing both games at home against Providence next weekend.
“Yeah, the opportunity is certainly there,” Whitehead said. “He certainly played great this weekend for us. It’s unfortunate for Ben. He’s had a lot of great games for us, but he’s a freshman and that’s going to happen. He’s going to have a bad outing. He was disappointed in himself, but he’s a tough competitor so he’ll bounce back.”
The third period was uneventful. With Lundin pulled for the extra skater, Damon shot a high wrister past Curry with just 18.2 seconds left, but that was all she wrote for Maine.
“It’s been a long time [since 1997-98] since we’ve swept a series with wins in all three games against Maine, and it’s been a while since we’ve won the series [also 1997-98], so it was nice to get the series,” Parker said.
“But more importantly, it gets us back in the home-ice fight and in recognition as far as the polls are concerned. And I’m sure it will help us when they come out with the real poll [the PairWise Rankings], as far as strength of schedule is concerned.”
The feel-good story of the weekend was the Terriers winning for eight-year-old Sarah Pollard. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the youngster and her parents were flown to Boston because she wanted to see MacArthur play in person after befriending him when he played juniors in Waterloo, Iowa. MacArthur responded with a goal and three assists this weekend
“Everyone played their hearts out for that little girl,” MacArthur said. “Her trip was definitely worthwhile now. I still say she’s a good-luck charm for me.”
“I said to the team, ‘We ought to fly her out every weekend,’” Parker said. “She had a great time, that’s for sure. Peter played really well; I thought his whole line played great. That’s the best weekend they’ve had. I haven’t had him play with Ewing that much, but that was the best that either one of them had played individually. It was nice to see them get it going.”
BU (10-8-2, 8-6-1 Hockey East) plays a home-and-home series against Merrimack next weekend, while Maine (14-8-0, 7-6-0) hosts Providence for two games.