CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — No. 10 Boston College proved on Sunday that it doesn’t always take a picture-perfect effort to come out on top.
Two days after routing No. 3 Maine, 4-0, the Eagles posted a 4-1 victory in Sunday’s rematch. Unlike Friday, though, where BC dominated throughout, it was the Black Bears that carried the play in the game but struggled to solve Eagles netminder John Muse, who allowed just one goal in the two games and stopped 39 of 40 shots in Sunday’s matinee at Kelley Rink.
“John Muse continues his real strong play in net for us,” BC coach Jerry York said. “He’s had some remarkable stretches for us in his four years but right now he is playing as well as he’s played at any time in his four years.”
“I was very impressed by John Muse this weekend; he had a tremendous weekend,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “I was very impressed by how the guys played [on Sunday] and if we continue to play like that we’ll get our share of wins.”
While Muse was at the top of his game at one end, BC’s Paul Carey had a breakout weekend. Carey scored two goals on Sunday to add to the goal he tallied on Friday. Carey entered the weekend with just a single goal.
“We were concerned about [Carey],” York said of his first-line left wing. “He had played 10 games and had one goal, and if you’re going to be a goal scorer and a top-line player, you’ve got to put goals on the board. He kind of stuck through a slump and he kept battling. I like that.”
It was Carey and the Eagles who picked up where they left off on Friday night, jumping out to an early lead. After Maine was whistled for too many men on the ice at 1:56, it took just eight seconds for BC to score on the power play. Brian Gibbons’ blast from the point bounced off netminder Dan Sullivan’s (19 saves) pad, then off Carey’s shin and into the net.
The officials reviewed the play on video to determine whether Carey illegally kicked the puck into the net, but they determined it was accidental contact, allowing the goal to stand, much to the chagrin of Whitehead.
“The referee said [Carey] was stopping,” Whitehead said. “I don’t agree with the call. I saw it on tape. He was looking at the puck. I’ll have to watch it in slow motion but I had a great view from the bench and saw it again on video and he’s making a motion toward the net, directing it in.”
Unlike Friday, Maine didn’t wilt and responded with a solid forecheck for the remainder of the first and most of the second and at 12:56 of the middle frame, finally solved the puzzle of Muse.
With heavy traffic in front, defenseman Mark Nemec blasted a seeing-eye shot that beat Muse to knot the game at 1.
The Black Bears maintained pressure and looked poised to take their first lead of the weekend. Instead, the ever-potent Eagles offense responded not just once, but twice before the end of the second to regain control.
Rookie Bill Arnold lifted a backhanded shot from in tight over Sullivan’s short-side shoulder at 18:28 to give the Eagles the lead once again. And just 40 seconds later, Carey netted his second of the game on a breakaway, knocking home the rebound of his first shot.
In the third, the Black Bears couldn’t get back into the game, despite three power-play chances and an extended man advantage when Whitehead pulled Sullivan for the extra skater. Maine’s power play finished the week 0-for-12 against the Eagles, which BC scored once with the man advantage on Sunday and three times total on the weekend.
“It’s important for the psyche of the power-play guys,” York said of the three goals with the man advantage in the two-game series.
BC’s Barry Almeida netted an empty-net goal with 2:09 remaining to account for the 4-1 final.
With the weekend sweep, Maine posted losses back-to-back for the first time this season. The Black Bears (6-3-3, 4-2-1 Hockey East) entered the weekend undefeated in league play.
Boston College (8-4-0, 6-3-0 Hockey East), on the other hand, swept a weekend series for the first time since Oct. 15-16, when it beat Denver back-to-back on the road.
Maine will be idle throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, which will help the club heal a bit. Both Will O’Neill and Jeff Dimmen were missing from the lineup on Sunday.
Boston College will be back in action next Friday when it faces Merrimack on the road at 4 p.m. EST.