ORONO, Maine — One night after blowing a two-goal lead, the University of Maine men’s hockey team couldn’t preserve an early 1-0 lead, as Boston University fought back to earn the 1-1 tie and take three points from the Black Bears while on the road.
The Black Bears sit at 11-7-6 and 8-5-4 in Hockey East, while the Terriers improve to 12-7-7 and 9-5-5 in HEC.
“If you would have told me we’d come into Maine and get three out of four points, I’d be very happy,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “They needed the win more than we did; the tie helps us out.”
Terriers’ junior goalie Kieran Millan had a fantastic night, stopping 41 of 42 shots directed towards him.
“That was a fabulous performance by Millan,” Black Bears coach Tim Whitehead said. “He made every conceivable save you could make. I imagine the puck looked like a beach ball to him”
The game couldn’t start any better for the Black Bears, who took the lead on the opening play. Junior defender Will O’Neill received the puck from junior forward Brian Flynn by the left faceoff circle and snuck the puck between Millan’s right pad and stick to take the 1-0 lead 21 seconds in. Junior forward Gustav Nyquist was also credited with an assist.
“We got possession in the zone and Brian Flynn chipped it back to me,” O’Neill said. “I had a lot of time and was able to collect it off the wall and settle it down and get my head up to strike it.
“You could tell from the opening faceoff we weren’t as geared up as we needed to be,” Parker said. “They took it to us.”
The Black Bears had an early opportunity to add to the lead when Terrier’s sophomore forward Justin Courtnall went to the penalty box for hooking. The Terriers, as they did throughout the period, defended the man-advantage well.
Less than seven minutes into the first, the Black Bears had another chance to showcase their power play, when senior center Tanner House was rocked with an elbow from sophomore Alex Chiasson.
The Terriers made the best of the short-handed situation, capitalizing on a Black Bears turnover to tie the game at one. Junior forward Chris Connolly received the puck in neutral ice on a two-on-one break. The captain threaded the puck to fellow captin, senior forward Joe Pereira, who one-timed it past freshman goalie Martin Ouellette. The play was under review, as the goal came loose around the time of the puck sliding past the red line, but the call stood.
“It was more of a breakaway then [Pereira] came in and made it a two-on-zero,” Ouellette said. “I think I read well that he was going to pass it. I got a piece of it, and it rolled on my leg and in before the net got pushed off.”
The teams took turns in with scoring chances, as Nyquist and sophomore forward Ryan Santana each came close to breaking the tie for their respective teams.
The Terriers had their first opportunity to go on the power play with less than eight minutes remaining in the period. Senior center Robby Dee crushed sophomore defender Max Nicastro and got booked with a boarding call. Black Bears junior forward Spencer Abbott and Terriers’ sophomore center Ben Rosen followed Dee to the sin bin for hitting from behind.
The Black Bears handled the penalty kill well, disrupting the Terriers frequently in neutral ice.
Last night’s hero, junior defender David Warsosky, potentially saved a goal late in the first period, diving in front of senior defender Jeff Dimmens shot to redirect Dimmen’s attempt.
The Black Bears made it a point of emphasis to get pucks on net, with 20 shots heading toward Millan in the first period while just two were directed toward Ouellette.
The Black Bears had a minute and a half penalty kill to open the second period, and fended it off without conflict.
The Terriers were able to control the majority of early play, keeping possession deep in the Black Bears zone.
Seven minutes into the period, Millan had the play of the game. Black Bears freshman Carlos Amestoy’s shot got sent up into the air and came down right in front of freshman forward Mark Anthoine’s stick. Anthoine looked to slide the puck into the open net, but while the puck was on the red line, Millan blindly backhanded it into his glove inches before it crossed over for a goal. The save even fooled the goal judge, who set off the light and foghorn signalizing a Black Bears goal.
“It bounced back in front of the net,” Millan said. “I was lackadaisical in getting back to my post because I assumed the puck would be rimmed around, but it popped out in front and he chipped it and I tried to grab it with my glove and it went in [my glove].”
Midway through the period, sophomore defender Mark Nemec hit the showers early for the Black Bears, getting sent off for a game misconduct for contact to the head.
“We dropped [sophomore forward Matt] Mangene back to defense and he did a great job,” Whitehead said about the dismissal of Nemec. “We mixed up the line and everyone performed well.”
With two minutes remaining in the five-minute major, the Black Bears sent one more to the box when the captain House was booked for roughing.
Ouellette and the Black Bears penalty kill faced a barrage of Terriers shots, including two from both freshman defender Adam Clendening and Warsofsky.
Right at the ending of the five-on-three advantage, House and Amestoy almost countered for a great goal, but Amestoy couldn’t get his stick on House’s crossing pass.
The Black Bears had 27 seconds of five-on-three play early in the third period when freshman Garrett Noonan followed Pereira to the box for tripping.
Early in the two-man advantage, O’Neill had a rip toward Millan, which the goalie absorbed, yet he took a few minutes to recover from the blow.
The Black Bears had continuous chances on the power play, when Clendening was booked for slashing. After a near miss off the post by sophomore forward Joey Diamond the Terriers sent another man to the box when junior center Corey Trivino laid-out the unsuspecting Diamond and was booked for interference.
Millan continued to excel in the net, sprawling across the crease to stop Van Dyk’s rip with his left pad.
The Terriers had another opportunity to take the lead with less than five minutes remaining when Pereira passed to Connolly, who couldn’t beat Ouellette glove side. Both teams took the 1-1 tie into overtime.
The Terriers return to Boston next Friday to take on the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, while the Black Bears travel to Durham, N.H. for a pivotal two-game series with the University of New Hampshire. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 and 7 p.m. Feb 5.