CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Boston College erupted with three goals in just 1:38 of the second period to pull away from Maine and secure an eventual 7-2 win.
Playing against a team that had lost only once since November, the Eagles extended their unbeaten streak to nine games (8-0-1) and solidified their position atop Hockey East with a 10-1-1 league mark. They also gained revenge for their only league loss, one that Maine administered at Alfond Arena, 5-1.
BC’s juggernaut line of Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes had entered the contest with 104 combined points and added to that total in dominating fashion. Hayes appeared like a man amongst boys en route to a hat trick and an assist. Arnold scored two of the three pivotal second-period goals. Gaudreau, the nation’s top goal scorer, collected five assists.
The Eagles also won the special teams battle, scoring three power-play goals while allowing only one in seven Maine chances.
The Black Bears briefly rallied with a Stu Higgins goal near the end of the second period to narrow the margin to 4-2, but three third-period BC goals put the game away in convincing fashion.
Combined with a Friday night win over arch-rival Boston University, the BC win completed a four-point Hockey East weekend for the Eagles.
“We work on physical strength and we work on skills, but when you get to the sixth period on a Friday-Saturday [weekend of games], it comes down to how strong you are mentally,” BC coach Jerry York said. “Our team really showed high marks in that quality.”
Maine coach Red Gendron praised the Eagles, noting wryly that it’s no surprise that they’ve now won 16 games, but he also gave his own team low marks.
“Tonight, we took a step backwards,” he said. “We did not get better as a team. We got worse. Our discipline was gone. Our focus and awareness was gone. As a result, we were embarrassed by a very, very good Boston college team.”
Hayes gave BC its first lead just 1:10 into the game, shooting from the right faceoff dot and then when Martin Ouellette couldn’t handle the puck cleanly, knocking in the rebound.
Maine evened the score at the buzzer off a scramble in front of the net that required video review to determine that the puck crossed the line in time. After several minutes of review, the goal was signaled and credited to Jon Swavely.
BC’s pivotal three-goal outbreak began at 4:18 of the second period. Scott Savage passed from the left wing to Arnold in front, and the senior redirected it home. On the power play 48 seconds later, Arnold scored again. Gaudreau fed Patrick Brown for a point-blank shot that Ouellette stopped, only to have Arnold tap in the rebound. Ian McCoshen finished off the three-goal explosion, one-timing a pass from Brown.
Gendron pulled Ouellette at that point, though he would later apply no blame to the netminder. Rather than use a timeout, the coach opted for the spark of a new goaltender, Dan Sullivan.
By the end of the period, Maine had narrowed the margin to 4-2. On a power play at 18:40, Higgins put in the rebound of a Devin Shore shot from the slot.
However, that only set the stage for more BC highlights in the third period.
Barely a minute in, the Eagles collaborated on one of the “sickest” goals of the year. Michael Matheson sent the puck to Gaudreau on the right, who simply redirected the pass to Brown on the far post, who put it in.
BC netminder Thatcher Demko put in his share of theatrics, making a sprawling pad save on a two-on-none in which Swavely and Higgins had no defender in the same area code but couldn’t beat the freshman.
If any doubt remained as to the outcome of the game, Hayes scored his second goal at 15:30. Skating down the left side as Arnold moved to the far post to attract attention, Hayes roofed it for his 16th of the year.
Little more than two minutes later, he added another for his 17th and the hat trick.