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College Hockey:
Sullivan backstops Maine to sweep of Boston University

— After pulling out a road win over a surprisingly listless No. 2 Boston University on Friday night, No. 20 Maine had to know that it was likely that its opponent would come out with a higher level of intensity Saturday night.

While that proved to be the case, the Black Bears were equal to the challenge.

Although the Terriers came out hitting and mustered 39 shots against Maine goalie Dan Sullivan, the Black Bears pulled off an improbable road sweep with a 3-1 victory in front of 5,847 fans at Agganis Arena.

Maine became the first team to win its season series against BU this season.

Sullivan stopped 38 of 39 shots, giving him a .956 save percentage for the weekend. His performance overshadowed BU goalie Kieran Millan, who was also excellent tonight, particularly in the first period when Maine out shot the hosts by a whopping 21-8 margin.

Nick Pryor’s first collegiate goal proved to be the game winner for the visitors, who also received tallies from John Parker and Matt Mangene.

Garrett Noonan scored for the Terriers.

“Exciting game and we do feel fortunate – I’m not just saying that,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “Dan Sullivan just had a tremendous weekend. Without a doubt, he was the difference tonight, that’s for sure, but it was a team effort. A lot of guys blocked shots.”

Despite the loss, BU coach Jack Parker was far more pleased with his team’s play tonight.

“Last night, it’s 3-2 and an empty-netter makes it 4-2,” Parker said. “Tonight, an empty-netter makes it 3-1. Sounds like the same thing, but it was like night and day. I was extremely happy with how hard we played. I thought we did a great job killing penalties. The only power-play goal they got was the empty-netter, I think. We did a pretty nice job in an awful lot of areas.”

Maine set the tone for the first period in the first two minutes when Mangene stole the puck and went in on the breakaway, only to be denied by Millan. With the help of four power plays – two on smart penalties that BU needed to take to prevent scoring chances – they piled up the shots, but couldn’t score until just after the last man advantage expired in the waning seconds of the period.

With just 6.9 ticks left on the clock, Parker collected a rebound in the right-wing circle and beat Millan with a high wrist shot. After scoring only one collegiate goal prior to this weekend, it marked the second game in a row that the freshman had scored.

BU turned the table in the second period, outshooting Maine by a startling 19-6 edge to leave the shots completely even after two lopsided frames. The Terriers were rewarded with a power-play goal when Noonan parked himself in front of the Maine net and redirected Adam Clendening’s shot from the right point to tie it up at 2:41.

Maine got what proved to be the game winner at 6:00 of the period. Joey Diamond won an offensive-end draw back to Pryor at the point to set up a slap shot.

“It was kind of a rolling puck, so I stepped into it and gave it everything I had,” Pryor said. “I didn’t even see it go in.”

The shot rang off of a pipe, but did the shot go in? A video review ensued.

“This guy had a missile of a shot,” Whitehead said. “Had to go to the video because it was so fast.”

The goal stood.

The bizarre truth is that it marked the 17th time in Hockey East play that BU has given up a player’s first collegiate goal, and that’s out of just 49 goals against in league play.

BU had any number of very good chances for the rest of the period and into the third, but Sullivan made several strong saves and controlled his rebounds well.

With 1:30 remaining, BU pulled Millan, and Ross Gaudet – an improbable choice as the extra attacker – raced out and very nearly tied it up. Players piled up in the crease as the Terriers desperately attempted to tie the game, but it never happened.

Mangene finally sealed it with an empty-net goal with just 4.6 seconds left. By then, Parker had been given a game misconduct because of his vocal displeasure with the officiating.

The upshot is that Maine has now pulled off two consecutive weekend sweeps against top five opponents in Boston College and BU. Whitehead believes it’s the team’s best stretch since the 2009-10 season, when a last-season run led the Black Bears to the Hockey East championship game before falling short against BC.

“It’s great,” Pryor said. “I think we’re a confident bunch, but I think we’ve been that way all year, not just the last four games.”

“We dodged a bit of a bullet to get out of here with two points, but it feels good,” Whitehead said.

BU (15-8-1, 11-7-2 Hockey East) had to play without two of its better defensemen. Freshman Alexx Privitera broke his wrist in Friday night’s game and is said to be out four weeks. Max Nicastro hurt his shoulder on Friday and didn’t play either, but there is a possibility he will be back in time for next Friday’s road game at Merrimack or the following Monday’s Beanpot semifinal against Harvard.

Maine (14-8-3, 11-7-2) now finds itself at No. 11 in the PairWise, as well as in a tight cluster of the top five teams in Hockey East. The Black Bears will host Alabama-Huntsville next weekend.

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  • maineiac

    Scott, please tell me in what game Maine pulled out a 3-1 road win on Friday night? The scoreboard at the game I went to said 4 to 2. Did they play a doubleheader and I left before the second game? You really need to start taking naps, or indulge in a strong cup of coffee!

    • Pauli S

      And what article are you reading that said 3-1 for a Friday result????  Maybe YOU need that strong cup of coffee.

      • Guest

        there was an error but is now corrected, but the rest of his comment is unnecessary

        • maineiac

          Scott had a bad weekend. He himself admitted that he was tired. Just some good natured ribbing. I’m confident he can take it.

      • maineiac

        I had my cup of coffee. That’s how I could stay up last night and see the error that you just found out about this morning after it was corrected. Have you had your morning cup yet? 

  • benedettobunyonbromance

    Maine didn’t win this at all… their best friend Bunyon won it. Guess he needed his 2 hours of fame. He should probably go back to chopping down trees in backwoods Maine. 

    • maineiac

      OK, so if Maine didn’t win it then I guess BU lost it. Same result.

    • Save Maine Hockey

      I’ve witnessed many Maine/BU games where BU got away with some of the most unsportsmanlike plays like diving, going into checks with high elbows, yanking players down and trying to look innocent, etc, while maine players got called on bogus penalties.

      I didn’t see the game, so I didn’t see the calls made.  I don’t agree with biased reffing, but I also don’t feel bad because BU has had a lot of calls in their favor over the years.

    • Anonymous

      Bunyon has screwed Maine over so many times I can’t count. He’s just a bad ref, not biased.

    • Anonymous

      BU getting hosed by refs in favor of Maine?  You’re kidding, right?  Many HEA refs clearly favor both BU and BC over any other team in the conference.  Now you know how fans of other teams feel.  Deal with it –

    • Save Maine Hockey

      If you do a little research, Jeff Bunyon is from Massachusetts.  He’s just a bad ref who has made a lot of quetionable calls over the years. 

    • Thinkupstream

      i think bunton is a boston area cop in his alter ego.

  • Gs02111

    One of the worst examples of officiating I’ve seen in watching over 30 of men’s college hockey … Nonsensical penalties, called without any consistency by two refs without any idea what they were doing. BU was terribly disadvantaged tonight and if HE doesn’t review the game, it would be a shame … there were major muggings missed in front of the net and then minor offenses called that were far away from the play … terrible, terrible, terrible!!!

    • Blackbears better then bu!

      Really muggings in front of the net? Who caused these muggings? Bu who was attacking the goalie you are a fool! Any team including bu would be all over guys in front of the net…. You are just like any bu fan blind!! Your team played very well, Maine played better. Get over it you baby.

      • Guest

        I had the pleasure of witnessing my first full-on tackle in college hockey.  A maine defensemen blatantly bear hugged and brought down a BU player in the crease going for a loose puck.

    • topshelf

      Hopefully HE officials will review the game and Coach Parker will get the suspension he deserves. His behavior last night at the end of the game did not reflect well on Hockey East. Regardless of the quality of the officiating in the game…Parker’s language and demeanor at the end was an embarassment to the League.

  • Boston Maine~iak

    Complaining of officiating against BU? It’s usually BU (along with BC) that are the beneficiaries of many questionable calls. I give the officials props for calling the dive at the end of the game, as well as ejecting Parker. 

    • Pauli S

      Oh and you have no bias

  • Jablowme

    So many mad BU fans. Enjoy your drop in the polls!

  • Anonymous

    It is GREAT to see a Maine sweep of BU on the road.  But I find it staggering to see how many Tim Whitehead fans have come out of the woodwork.  It seems to be the casual fan who lives in the moment, and has blinders on about how he has brought this once proud program to the point where people are trying to steer promising players away fro Maine due to the way he runs this program.  Four great wins do not erase a gradual decline over 10 years.

    Let’s be honest, and this is where the casual fan doesn’t reflect upon, how is this team going to be any better than last year’s team that had Gustav Nyquist?  He is an AHL all-star this year.  And for me, that was what broke the camel’s back for me on Whitehead.  We finally moved beyond the “young team” excuse last year, and it was going to be the year that we were back.  I was a strong supporter of Whitehead until the end of last season.

    My feeling on these wins?  The players are tired of looking like the ones to blame for this mess.  They finally got their business together, and won’t be saddled with Tim’s shortcomings.

    • 18secondsbeforesunrise

      So, what you are saying is Maine’s current 11-2-2 streak has happened DESPITE Whitehead inability to coach. Really?

      Sorry, but I highly doubt it. The entire team deserves credit for the BBears turnaround.

      Maine is winning and you are still whining. What exactly will it take? Oh yeah, firing Whitehead. I’m really glad that you aren’t the UMaine Athletic Director.

      • Anonymous

        OK, if Whitehead is credited for the wins then he must also be blamed for the losing.  And fact is that this team is below .500 overall for the last five seasons and regardless of the last 4 games that hasn’t changed.  This team will not make the NCAAs in 2012, and that makes 5 straight years.  Which in Orono, is unacceptable.

        • Anonymous

          EXACTLY!!  Why is that the “Tim Whitehead Fan Club” only sees this team with rose colored glasses.  I am happy to put these last two wins against Tim’s overall record at Maine.  And I say two wins, as we SHOULD beat BC twice at home.

          And there is no whining going on.  As I have said MANY times, I am a huge supporter of this team.  Despite their poor performance over the past five years, I have maintained my season tickets and attend most home games.  Oh yeah, and I drive from Connecticut to Orono to do so.  And I have also been to all of the NCAA tournament games this team has been in, regional and Frozen Fours with the exception of Anaheim, since 1995.  So please don’t come back with any BS about not being a “true fan.”  I will absolutely step up and call out those that think Tim Whitehead is the future of this program after a few wins.  It is people like me, who voice their opinions about the state of this program, that are going to save this program from the fate of Lake Superior State. 

        • Blackbears better then bu!

          They have a soft schedule the rest of the year they are 11th in pwr they are going to be probably the 3 seed in hockey east tourney. with the weak remaining schedule they will only stay or move up in the pwr therefore making the NCAA tourney…. You are name fan of umaine hockey for doubting them. A fan believes in the team together the job done 11-2-2 says it all! They have turned the corner, go find a hoe to sleep in my friend you are a fool.

  • Jackson

    As a long time BU fan, and former referee, i was really disappointed with their effort last night.  Maine played a really good game especially between the blues.

    I do think HE should review the game though.  Bunyon is an awful referee and made way too many questionable calls.  It’s pretty clear that he’s not cut out for this level of hockey.  Really sad.

    • BearMan2006

      Either we watched different games, or you’re dillusional.  The officiating was fine.  Jack Parker’s childish behavior wasn’t.  Guess it must really hurt when you go to such great lengths as he has to ensure the refs always favor BU and end up getting a fairly called hockey game.  Maine won this game early, then relied on their powerful game between the blue lines and forecheck to keep BU from ever really threatening.  Maine (the better team) beat BU twice this weekend.  No asteriks needed. No further review needed.  Unless, of course, it’s to suspend Jack Parker for a month. 

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