CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Saturday’s match-up between Maine and No. 14 Boston College was a meeting of two teams headed in the wrong direction. The Black Bears entered 0-5-1 in their last six; BC was nearly as futile at 0-4-2 in its last six.
The common denominator for each team over that span has been a lack of offensive production. Maine scored just 13 goals over the six-game span; BC was one worse with only 12.
Expectations, then, for the 6,909 in attendance at Kelley Rink might have been for a defensive battle. Were they surprised.
Paced by two first multiple-goal games for Matt Price and multi-point games for four different Eagles, BC’s offense erupted for six and the two teams combined for nine goals in a 6-3 win for the host Eagles.
“A winning team always needs everyone to chip in,” said Price, a junior, who scored just his ninth and tenth goals of his career. “Working hard and doing the little things, bounces come your way and you get rewarded for it.”
The victory was the first for Boston College since November 30, ending a 54-day winless drought. Maine, which hasn’t won since December 13, continues its futility and now is winless in seven.
In the first meeting between these two teams on November 9, a slow start in the opening period didn’t hurt the Eagles on the scoreboard, but allowed the game to remain within striking distance for the Black Bears. Maine capitalized with two third period goals to earn a 2-1 upset over then No. 2 in the country BC.
Saturday, Eagles’ coach Jerry York’s goal was to get out of the gate early, particularly given the team’s recent struggles. His team strongly obliged.
“We got off to a really good start, which helped our whole mental attitude about hockey,” said York. “We haven’t been playing as well as I’d like us to play during the recent series of games. Tonight, we got it back and our energy level was better. The start helped that.”
At 4:09, Benn Ferriero took a home run pass from Brock Bradford and skated in alone on a breakaway. Getting Maine goaltender Scott Darling (16 saves) to commit toward the right post, Ferriero snipped a shot to the top left corner for his second goal in as many games. It’s the first time that the senior has scored in back-to-back games after netting 17 goals a season ago and a career-high 23 tallies his sophomore season.
At 13:26, BC extended the lead. After establishing in-zone pressure on Maine, rookie Edwin Shea fired a shot from the left halfboards. Darling made the initial save and then stopped Joe Whitney on the doorstep on a rebound chance. That puck bounced to the stick of Price, who calmly lifted a backhander over the fallen netminder to give the Eagles a two-goal cushion after one.
When the teams returned to the ice in the second period, it was as if someone opened the offensive floodgates. The Eagles and Black Bears combined for six goals, three each, in a span of six minutes, 29 seconds, with all of the goals coming before the 11-minute mark.
BC extended the lead on Price’s second of the night, another rebound from the low slot on the back at 3:53.
Maine answered with back-to-back tallies at 4:14 and 5:48, respectively. Brian Flynn got the Black Bears on the board, picking a rebound up at the left post and firing it past Muse. Then Lem Randall’s shot from the left half-boards beat Muse far side.
Randall’s goal stirred a bit of controversy, as referee Dave Hansen, positioned on the goal line, immediately waved that the shot hit the post. Seconds passed before Hansen’s partner, referee Tom Fyrer, blew the whistle to huddle with Hansen. After a brief discussion, the crew ruled the puck did cross the goal line.
BC though, answered quickly, as Joe Whitney, flying down the left wing, blasted a perfect shot over Darling’s glove at 7:28. However, the Black Bears again had an answer, this time just 18 seconds later, when defenseman Mike Banwell fired a shot through a screen to pull Maine within a goal at 4-3.
The Eagles ended the scoring frenzy at 10:22, this time on a power play, when Barry Almeida scored the fourth goal of his rookie season. That spelled the end of the night for Darling, as Dave Wilson replaced him with 5:25 remaining in the frame.
It also closed the scoring in the period, but hardly stopped the opportunities. Maine had plenty of chances to pull closer, most coming on the power play, that included a brief five-on-three, but scrambles in the goal-mouth didn’t turn to goals, sending the Eagles holding on to the third with a two-goal lead.
“Goals were starting to come easier for both team and [the inability to score on the power play] really shut the door,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “We wanted to get back in the game but couldn’t get that fourth goal.”
In the third, BC once again gained a three-goal cushion when Matt Lombardi scored his second of the year at 2:11, walking out of the corner and sliding a shot along the ice that seemed to catch Wilson by surprise, beating him five-hole.
From there, BC was content to play defensive hockey, something unique during the second period, but a formula for success come night’s end.
The two clubs will meet again at Kelley Rink on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. to close the season series.