ORONO, Maine — What was predicted to be a close contest between upper-level Hockey East teams turned into a romp, with No. 13 Maine avenging an earlier loss with a 4-1 victory over No. 3 Boston College on Sunday.
“Maine was better than we were in every facet of the game,” Eagles coach Jerry York said. “Defensive zone they were better, neutral zone they were better, offensive zone they were better, any special team situation they were better. They clearly deserved to win the game. We were fortunate to keep it 4-1.”
The loss dropped the Eagles — who had a seven-game winning streak coming into the night — to 15-6 overall and 11-5 in Hockey East. The Black Bears improved to 11-6-4 and 8-4-2 in conference.
The Black Bears benefited greatly from a superb showing by sophomore goalie Shawn Sirman, who stopped 25 shots in his first game since Dec. 3.
“It was a remarkable performance after not being in the net for so long,” Black Bears coach Tim Whitehead said. “I was really impressed, very proud of him.”
“It all starts in your practice,” Sirman said. “By practicing hard ever since I’ve been out, you jump in and you’re just back in net. It’s just another game.”
The Eagles got the first offensive opportunity early in the first period, as senior forward Joe Whitney ripped off a shot that Sirman gloved.
The Black Bears had the only power-play opportunities in the period, the first of two happening two-and-a-half minutes into the game. Freshman Isaac MacLeod was tagged with interference, but Boston College remained aggressive with a man down and had no problem fending off the power play.
The second power play took place with less than six minutes remaining, as Whitney went to the sin bin for checking from behind. The Black Bears didn’t sit back on this man advantage, as senior goalie John Muse was kept busy by the Black Bears.
With 40 seconds left in the power play, Maine finally found an opening past Muse and the BC defense. Sophomore forward Joey Diamond notched his ninth goal of the season, after senior defender Jeff Dimmen found junior forward Brian Flynn, who centered the pass for Diamond to redirect past Muse.
The Black Bears took control of the game heading into the first intermission, grabbing a second goal with less than a minute remaining in the period. Diamond controlled the puck behind the Eagles net, and snuck a quick pass to senior captain Tanner House. The first-line center one-timed it for his sixth goal of the season.
The second period started as the first one ended, with the Black Bears adding a third goal 30 seconds into the middle frame. Nyquist laid off the puck to Flynn, who wristed the puck past Muse for his 12th goal of the season.
“Dimmen made a nice play chipping it out to Gus, he cut across and dropped it, and I just faked a shot, cut to the middle and shot it through the defenders legs,” Flynn said.
The Eagles got their first power-play opportunity two minutes into the period when sophomore forward Kyle Beattie was booked for checking from behind. The Black Bears controlled the penalty kill, awarding the Eagles few chances.
The scoring wasn’t limited for the forwards on Maine, as senior defender Jeff Dimmen made Alfond Arena erupt with a slap shot from the blue line that traveled over Muse’s right shoulder, giving the Black Bears a 4-0 advantage.
That was the end of the night for Muse, who was pulled in favor of sophomore Parker Milner.
Toward the end of the period, it looked as though the Eagles were going to catch a break after sophomore forward Matt Mangene got called for a delay-of-game penalty while the puck was floating around the Black Bears crease, resulting in a penalty shot for BC.
Sophomore center Pat Mullane lined up for the penalty shot and had his attempt parried away by Sirman’s glove.
“He faked the shot and went backhand,” Sirman said. “It hit my glove and it was a save.”
The Eagles found their way to the scoreboard five minutes into the third period when junior forward Cam Atkinson scored his 17th goal of the season.
Seconds after the goal, senior forward Mike Banwell was called for slashing, giving the Eagles a bit of momentum. The Black Bears held their ground, shutting the Eagles out on all four of their power-play chances.
“That was a tough one,” Flynn said. “They just scored and we had to kill the two minutes after that. They get one there, there’s still a lot of time left.”
“We played real hard for 60 minutes out there,” Nyquist said. “It’s great to see when we do that we can be such a good team.”
The Black Bears improved to 8-1-1 at Alfond Arena, but have to travel to Boston next weekend to take on Northeastern. The Eagles have a big conference weekend next week as well, challenging Boston University and Massachusetts-Lowell in back-to-back nights.