CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — With two of Hockey East’s top goaltenders in Boston College’s Cory Schneider and Maine’s Ben Bishop squaring off on Friday night, you might wonder if any goals would be scored or if Hockey East was in for yet another scoreless tie.
How surprising then is it to know that the pair of duffle bags surrendered 11 goals in one of the wild and woolliest games of the season with the Eagles coming out on top, 6-5, to sweep the season series from Maine for the first time since 2000-01.
While the game alone can be classified as wild, the third period was the ultimate microcosm.
The Eagles entered the final 20 minutes with a 4-2 lead only to see Maine even things on Michel Leveille’s and Billy Ryan second goals of the night at 42 seconds and 7:19 respectively.
BC answered, though, when Brian Boyle banged home a rebound of a Nathan Gerbe shot at 9:48 and Gerbe himself gave the Eagles breathing room with his 17th goal of the season with 5:22 remaining.
Lights out, right? Wrong.
Gerbe was whistled for over-celebrating his goal in Bishop’s face and, while killing the minor, BC tacked on a too many men on the ice penalty giving Maine a five-on-three.
Josh Soares’ goal with 4:28 left pulled the Black Bears within a goal setting up a free for all in the games final minutes.
“There were a lot of emotions in that third period,” said Gerbe, who added a goal and two assists on Friday to finish this week’s two-game series with six points total. “Maine’s a really good team and we know they’re coming at us.”
The 11 goals on Friday combined with the seven that were scored in Thursday’s series opener made for 18 goals total for two teams known for their defensive ability.
“You’d expect a 2-1 or a 1-0 game but a couple of power play goals and the game [ends up as it did],” said Maine’s Leveille, whose two goals on the night brought him one goal away from 50 in his career.
While Leveille remained just short of the milestone, BC head coach Jerry York reached a major plateau with the win. York, the NCAA’s active winningest coach, became just the third coach in BC history to reach the 300-victory mark with the Eagles.
The opening period showcased back-and-forth action with BC holding an 11-9 advantage in shots. Each team clanged shots off the iron, Maine’s coming at 7:55 off the stick of Keith Johnson and the Eagles from Ben Ferriero at 13:33.
After the post denied them, each team buried goals late in the frame.
BC scored first when Matt Price potted his second goal of the season wristing a screenshot past Bishop (28 saves) at 16:17.
Though it appeared that BC would escape with the lead, the Black Bears drew even with 49.8 seconds remaining as Keenan Hopson intercepted a pass behind the net and fed Billy Ryan for a one-timer that beat Schneider (29 saves) stick side to even the score at one through 20 minutes.
As fast paced as the first period was, the second period saw both teams’ energy increase. With it came both increased chances and scoring.
The Eagles regained the lead at 8:25 when Brett Motherwell blasted home a one-timer from the top of the right faceoff circle on the power play.
Maine, though, answered at 10:39 when Leveille was in the right place to poke home a puck that bounced off the end boards.
Before the period ended, BC not only took the lead back, it gave itself breathing room. Dan Bertram fired a loose puck over a sprawled Bishop after patiently pulling the 6-foot-7 netminder out of position at 15:39.
In the closing minute, Matt Greene poked home just his second goal of the year pushing a rebound of a Carl Sneep pass into a wide open net with 34.2 second remaining to give BC a 4-2 lead heading to the third.
As secure as things seemed, Maine battled back in the third, something that wasn’t lost on Maine head coach Tim Whitehead, particularly after his club’s lackluster effort a night earlier.
“We’re disappointed to be on the wrong end of the scoresheet,” said Whitehead. “But I am proud of the team. We fought back so many times.”
The win gives BC a four-point lead over Maine for third place in the Hockey East standings, while Massachusetts, by virtue of a 3-2 win over Vermont on Friday, jumps into a tie with the Black Bears for fifth place.
The Eagles will face Mass.-Lowell next weekend in a two-game series while Maine will host Merrimack for two games in Orono.