ORONO, Maine — In a back-and-forth game that featured tons of action both before and after the whistle, No. 16 Boston University got the best of the University of Maine, coming from behind to win 4-3 at Alfond Arena.
It’s just the second loss at home for the Black Bears, who fall to 11-7-5 and 8-5-3 in Hockey East, while the Terriers improve to 12-7-6 and 9-5-4 in conference.
“Obviously a tough loss for us,” Black Bear head coach Tim Whitehead said. “A lot of swings in momentum in the game. If you said we were going to win the special teams game, outshoot them as we did in the third period I would have thought we won.”
The first period started with plenty of pace, as both teams spent considerable time in the other’s defensive zone. Junior forward Spencer Abbott got the first good chance on net with a nice one-timer, but it was smothered up by junior goalie Kieran Millan.
The Terriers had the first opportunity to showcase their special teams, as freshman forward Mark Anthoine was booked for the Black Bears first penalty for tripping. Sophomore goalie Shawn Sirman and the Black Bears defended well on the penalty kill, keeping the score even.
Midway through the period tempers started to flare deep in the Terriers defensive zone. What resulted was a missed power play opportunity for the Black Bears, as sophomore forward Joey Diamond got charged with hitting after the whistle, joining Terrier freshman center Charlie Coyle, who was booked for hooking seconds earlier.
The Terriers got the best of the 4-on-4 play, as Millan quickly got rid of a gloved shot to sophomore defender Max Nicastro. Nicastro threaded the needle to junior center Corey Trivino, who had only Sirman to beat. He was able to do so, going around Sirman’s right pad for the first goal of the game.
Each team had another chance at a power play, with neither of them able to take advantage of the extra attacker.
The Terriers came close with adding another in the last two minutes of the period, but Sirman came up with the save on three straight occasions, stopping 12 of 13 BU shots in all. The Black Bears managed to get 15 shots on target, but the experienced Millan stopped them all.
The offensive attacks that were brewing by both teams in the first period finally boiled over in the second, as a slew of scoring took place in the middle period.
Black Bears junior forward Brian Flynn came close with sliding one past Millan in the first minute, followed by chances by Terrier captain senior forward Joe Pereira and sophomore forward Alex Chiasson, both of which were controlled by Sirman.
Abbott started the scoring just over five minutes in, as a diving save in the crease by junior defender Will O’Neill led to Sirman finding Dee, who found an open Abbott in neutral ice. Abbott took his lane and slapped it past Millan’s glove. Sirman matched fellow goalie Millan for his first assist of the season.
Before the Alfond could take a seat, Abbott had them up in arms again, scoring just 21 seconds apart, giving the Black Bears the lead. After a pass from senior defender Josh Van Dyk, Abbott found himself in an identical position. This time the Canadian hesitated and still pushed the puck past Millan for his second of the game and 14th of the season.
“Thirteen’s two goals—the slapper over the shoulder and the fake slap-wrist shot over the shoulder— both of them were missles, “BU head coach Jack Parker said.
Thirty seconds later, Terriers sophomore forward Justin Courtnall was called for slashing, leading to the Black Bears third goal of the period. BU freshman defender Adam Clendening tried to clear the puck from behind his net, but dropped it right in the slot to senior center Tanner House, who beat Millan with a simple flick.
Trying to regain composure, Parker used his timeout.
Just as quickly as the Black Bears got things rolling in the first half of the period, the wheels fell off in the second half. With eight minutes remaining, Chiasson squeaked his ninth goal past Sirman, who left just enough of a gap between his left skate and the post for the puck to slide in.
“Getting that Chiasson goal was the turning point,” Parker said.
“I didn’t even know I scored,” Chiasson said. “I was trying to find open space in the center ice and [freshman forward Matt Nieto] gave me a pass and it was too far ahead, I just wacked it and it ended up going in.”
The Terriers showed that they could match the Black Bears quick succession of goals, scoring less than 30 seconds later when sophomore forward Wade Megan beat Sirman five-hole to tie the game.
There were four power plays in the period alone, including a 5-3 opportunity for the Terriers that the Black Bears fended off.
The penalties continued early on in the third, with senior defender Jeff Dimmen going to the box in the first minute with interference. The Black Bears were able to fend off the power play, but gave up the lead less than four minutes into the final period. Junior defender David Warsofsky scored the go-ahead goal on a wicked slap shot that had the puck periodically stuck in the top right corner of the net.
Nyquist tried to equalize three minutes later, but went high with the shot.
The Black Bears had their first power play of the final period seven minutes in when freshman center Sahir Gill was called with interference. The Black Bears squandered the final seconds of the power play with a too many men on the ice call, evening the play at four.
Nyquist came within inches again, this time Millan had to slide across the crease to stop the assistant captain’s one-timer.
The Black Bears had their best chance to tie the game with just over five minutes in the period, when sophomore forward Kyle Beattie smacked the right post on his attempt.
The Terriers successfully defended a minute and a half of empty net play by the Black Bears, as both tempers erupted in the final seconds.
Millan played terrifically, stopping 34 of 37 shots, while Sirman stopped 23 of the 27 he saw.
“I thought my goalie played great,” Parker said.
“Any time you give up a couple quick ones it’s disheartening,” Millan said. “My teammates and I were able to battle back and get a couple goals quickly and just change momentum. We were able to hang on for the rest of the third.
A disgruntled Abbot—even with his two goals—voiced his frustration at another victory given away.
“One of these times we got to learn from it,” Abbott said. “It’s happened to us, I don’t know, five times and we haven’t learned from it yet. We keep making the same mistakes.
Both teams faceoff tomorrow Saturday at 7 p.m.