BOSTON — Frozen Fenway? More like Flooded Fenway.
Just over seven minutes into the first period, the Boston University-Maine matchup at Fenway Park was delayed for 69 minutes due to thunder and lightning and a torrential downpour.
After the skies cleared up to some degree however, the real deluge began for Maine.
With the help of a power play, the Black Bears scored just five seconds after play resumed and continued to shower the Terriers with goals. Maine notched four goals in that first period, added a fifth in the second period, and finally withstood a three-goal rally by BU in the third period before capping a 7-3 win with two empty-net goals in front of 25,580 at Fenway Park.
Sophomore right wing Ryan Lomberg and defenseman Ben Hutton each scored twice to lead the Black Bears to the victory in a strange and soggy battle that featured an unseasonably balmy temperature of 58 degrees along with a 14 mile per hour wind at game time.
Despite the anomaly of the perhaps unprecedented phenomenon of a rain delay in a college hockey game, both coaches agreed that Maine’s power play was more of a story than the elements.
“We came out smoking, especially on the power play,” Maine coach Red Gendron said. “We scored three power-play goals on the first three power-play opportunities. Our players just did a great job delivering the puck to the net, and we had some traffic on some.
“During the course of building that 5-0 lead, we just did very, very simple things. I think the conditions out there dictated that that might be the most prudent way to go. To the credit of our players, they executed perfectly and basically made it difficult for BU to come back.”
BU coach David Quinn felt his team played with more purpose than they have in some time today, only to have new concerns arise.
“Right now, we’re in a situation where it’s one thing after another,” Quinn said, noting that his team was uncharacteristically poor on special teams today. “It’s a different problem every game right now, and that’s something we’re going to have to correct. I actually thought we got off to a good start, but penalties have crept into our game. We’ve taken five, six, seven, eight penalties per game since the break, and it’s a big problem for us.”
Unsurprisingly, Quinn found a watery metaphor to describe his team’s performance.
“We’re in that little funk where you fix one hole in the dam, and then another hole springs loose. So you put your finger on that one, and another springs loose. We have to find a way to put all our fingers in all of the holes and stop that dam from leaking all over the place.”
The first hole in the dam emerged at 6:37 of the first period. With Mark Anthoine holding the puck along the left-wing boards, BU’s backchecking forwards left too much open space between the dots for Ryan Lomberg, who took a pass and fired a quick shot past Matt O’Connor.
Seconds later, BU center Sam Kurker was called for a tripping penalty, and the heavens showed their displeasure with either Kurker or the call. There was a flash of lighting followed a few seconds later with a crash of thunder, and the referees immediately ushered the teams off the ice.
After the delay, the power play finally began, and Maine scored right off the faceoff. This meant that Maine’s first two goals were either 53 seconds or 70 minutes apart, depending on how you chose to look at it. It was Hutton who scored with the shot from the point off of the clean face-off win.
The floodgates really opened with two more Maine goals in a 48-second span later in the period. First it was a brilliant backhanded pass by Cam Brown that got the puck around a BU defender and set up Andrew Cerretani all alone for a backhanded shot past O’Connor. This was followed by Maine’s third power-play goal of the period, as Devin Shore beat O’Connor with a high wrist shot.
“We’ve found our identity as a team that wants to outwork and outskate our opponents,” Shore said.
At that point, O’Connor was pulled in favor of Sean Maguire, who managed to keep Cerratani from scoring another goal on a second-period breakaway. However, the Black Bears made it 5-0 right after another power play expired with the help of a lucky bounce. Anthoine’s shot bounced off of a skate in front of the net and caromed to Lomberg for a 20-foot shot and score.
“The exciting experience kind of turned into a negative one really quick,” BU right wing Cason Hohmann said.
That’s how it stayed until 8:21 of the third period, when BU began an improbable rally. First, Dalton McAfee teed up a Garrett Noonan one-timer for a power-play goal. Five minutes later, Nick Roberto redirected Ahti Oksanen’s shot from the right point for another goal. After another 90 seconds or so, Danny O’Regan took a long shot that was blocked by Maine goalie Martin Oullette, only to have Hohmann knock in the rebound.
“I loved what we did in the third period,” Quinn said. “We were able to pull ourselves together and get it to 5-3.”
With over five minutes to play, BU clung to a little hope. Quinn pulled the goalie with 2:59 to go, and BU hit a post. But with 2:19 remaining, Hutton cleared the puck from deep in his own end. The puck glided slowly toward the BU net while Oksanen and Noonan desperately raced after it. Would the puck stick in a puddle? No. It cleared the goal line with Oksanen all of a foot or two behind it. Shore added another empty-netter a minute later, and that was that.
BU (7-10-2, 2-5-1 Hockey East) hopes to build on its strong third period when traveling to Boston College on Friday night, while Maine (11-7-2, 5-2-1) hosts St. Francis Xavier for an exhibition game on Tuesday before playing at Massachusetts-Lowell and BC next weekend.