ORONO, Maine — The Boston College men’s hockey team let a two-goal lead slip away Friday night, but regained it in the third period and held on to beat the University of Maine Black Bears, 4-3, in the first game of their weekend set at Alfond Arena in Orono.
B.C. senior center Matt Price provided the four-on-four game-winner with 7:20 remaining in the game. He backhanded a rebound between the pads of Maine sophomore goalie Scott Darling for his first goal of the season to give the Eagles a 4-2 lead.
“(Sophomore left wing Barry Almeida) just shot a low shot, a rebound shot, and I just tried to whack it in,” said Price. “I was fortunate enough to get the rebound.”
Of Price’s 14 career goals, five have come against the Black Bears.
“I try and play the same way against every team,” Price said. “It’s just puck luck I’d say.”
B.C. improved to 5-3-1 and 4-3-1 in Hockey East. Maine fell to 4-7-0 (3-4-0 Hockey East). The teams will play again Saturday at 7 p.m.
“I thought we’d get an up-tempo game, and I thought we responded pretty well,” B.C. coach Jerry York said.
Maine scored all three of their goals against B.C. freshman goalie Parker Milner in the third period.
Sophomore right wing Gustav Nyquist spoiled a 2-0 shutout just 18 seconds into the frame, and freshman left wing Joey Diamond’s first two career goals came at 2:32 and 12:40.
Milner made his second career start and remained undefeated at 2-0-0. He stopped 23-of-26 shots on goal, including a glove save on a Nyquist breakaway in the second period.
“I thought I had a really strong start,” Milner said. “But you never like to give up three goals in any period, especially the third.”
Nyquist’s centering pass from the left corner deflected off Milner’s pad and into the goal at the near post. His six goals are tied for the team lead with freshman left wing Adam Shemansky. Diamond drove the net from the right boards and beat Milner in front, and then scored his second from the left faceoff circle to make it 4-3.
Darling was pulled for the extra attacker with 45 seconds remaining, but the Black Bears could not convert.
B.C. sophomore right wing Cam Atkinson answered Diamond’s 2-2 equalizer off the ensuing faceoff when his wrister from the right point deflected off Maine sophomore defenseman Will O’Neill’s stick and beat Darling top shelf. Freshman center Pat Mullane won the faceoff for the Eagles.
“I just used O’Neill as a screen, and then I just tried to shoot as hard as I could and luckily it just went in,” Atkinson said.
Maine has allowed a responding goal within a minute of equalizing four times this season.
“We have to eliminate those chances for them,” Nyquist said. “We can’t keep letting in goals that early.”
The Eagles outshot the Black Bears 28-15 through the first two periods but were contained by Darling from breaking the game open. Darling made 31 saves in the loss and fell to 4-3-0.
“I didn’t really think we showed up to play the first two periods today,” Nyquist said.
The Eagles solved Darling once in each of the first two periods. Mullane opened the scoring with 49 seconds remaining in the first period with his first career goal. His pass from the right of the slot intended for freshman left wing Chris Kreider at the far post deflected off a Maine defender’s skate and into the net.
Darling got a healthy piece of B.C. sophomore Jimmy Hayes’ offering from the left faceoff circle at 7:29 of the second period, but the puck squeezed between his pads and slid just across the goal line.
“Darling really made some unbelievable saves that second period,” York said. “He was on top of his game.”
Maine’s power play unit, ranked fourth in the nation, failed to capitalize on nearly two minutes of a sustained five-on-three advantage early in the first period.
“I thought (the killed five-on-three’s) were one of the keys to us staying alive in this thing,” York said. “You go down early and the crowd really gets going.”