BOSTON, Mass. — In sports, they say the ability to counterpunch — in other words answer your opponent when they score — is almost more important than the punch itself.
Boston University proved that true on Friday, consistently answering any offense mustered by No. 12 Maine with swifter and more powerful scoring punches. The end product was an offensive explosion for the Terriers resulting in a 7-4 victory in the first of a two game weekend series against the Black Bears at Agganis Arena.
I think this team is to the point that they dont get down when somebody scores on them, said BU head coach Jack Parker. The best part about the night is we had answers every time.
The Terriers certainly did have answers. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, BU let Maine back in with two quick second period goals. But the Terriers answered immediately with two goals of their own. After Maine climbed back to within a goal at 4-3, BUs answer was definitive: three goals in a span of 3:34.
It never ceases to amaze me the momentum swings in hockey, said Maine head coach Tim Whitehead. It was disappointing [after scoring goal] that we would let our guard down.
BU offense was paced by six multiple point scorers including a three-point game from defenseman Colby Cohen (goal, two assists) and two goals from Ross Gaudet.
For Gaudet, a redshirt freshman, he continues to catch lightning in a bottle. The two goals gives Gaudet five goals in five games and ten on the season, that despite taking just 30 shots this season.
We want him to shoot more, laughed Parker about an almost unheard of .333 shooting percentage for the second-line winger. Hes gotten some great looks. Maybe hes thinking, If I get 50 more shots Ill get a few more goals.
Though BU held a slight advantage in shots early, it was the Terriers that had the most memorable offensive chances and scored the first periods only goal. Gaudet scored his ninth goal of the season just 1:18 into the game finishing off a feed from Joe Pereira on a well-executed 2-on-1.
The Terriers had a host of chances to extend the lead. Maine starting netminder Scott Darling (18 saves) made a stellar stop at the two-minute mark, robbing Vinny Saponari with the left pad on yet another 2-on-1. At 5:34, Kevin Shattenkirk one-timed a shot on the power play that beat Darling but rang squarely off the left post.
At the other end, the BU defense did a nice job stiffing Maines offense. The Black Bears attempted 20 shots but just eight landed on net with the Terrier defense blocking seven of Maines attempts.
BU extended the lead early in the second when Gaudet scored his second goal, wristing a shot from the left halfboards that caught Darling anticipating a pass, beating him five hole at 4:33.
Maine looked to be in real trouble midway through the frame when an extended 5-on-3 power play resulted in just one shot, a weak wrister from the slot that Millan had no trouble stopping.
But the Black Bears kept forcing things and before long, the game was tied. At 11:28, Joey Diamond poked home the rebound of Kevin Swallows shot to pull within goal. And a power play goal by David deKastrozza, poking the puck under a sprawled Kieran Millan (18 saves) at 13:45 created a whole new ballgame.
That didnt last long, though, as Saponari roofed the rebound of a Chris Connolly shot on the power play at 16:01. And Nick Bonino perfectly placed a shot inside the right post with 1:21 remaining to send BU to locker room with a two-goal lead through two.
Hoping to close out the game, the Terriers instead came out flat in the third and allowed Maine to claw back. After Milan made a couple of incredible stops to halt a buzzing Maine attack, he couldnt recover to stop Jeff Dimmen who got Maine within a goal at 5:59.
But that seemingly woke the sleeping Terriers. Zach Cohan helped regain the two-goal lead at 7:25 pushing a rebound past Shawn Sirman (four saves) who replaced Darling to start the third. Eighteen second later, BU slammed the door, this time with a Colby Cohen one-timer off the left post and it for the 6-3 lead.
David Warsofsky extended the lead at 10:59 with his ninth goal of the year. On the play, Sirman (four saves) was injured forcing Darling to return to finish the game.
Maine then closed the scoring with Robby Dees 11th goal of the year with 4:26 left. After the goal, Parker replaced Millan with junior Adam Kraus (four saves). It was just his second appearance of the season.
The victory allows BU to keep pace with Massachusetts-Lowell for fifth place and pulls both clubs with two points of Massachusetts for the final home ice spot.
Maine, on the other hand, remains tied for second with Boston College but fell five points behind first place New Hampshire, a 4-2 winner Friday over Providence. That makes the two points on the line in Saturdays rematch with BU even more important.
Two points tomorrow is worth the same as two points tonight, said Whitehead.