It was a night for wishes to come true at Agganis Arena.
Between the first and second periods, the Terriers honored eight-year old Sarah Pollow , a girl from Iowa who received a trip to Boston through the Make-A-Wish Foundation to see BU center Peter MacArthur play this weekend against Maine. The sophomore responded with a terrific effort, setting up Kenny Roche’s game-winning goal with 1:10 remaining to give BU a stirring 3-2 victory over No. 9 Maine in front of 5,911 fans.
Roche scored two goals, both featuring excellent assists by MacArthur. John Curry withstood 17 shots in a first period dominated by Maine and wound up with 29 saves on the night. In a losing effort, Greg Moore scored twice for the Black Bears.
“A tale of two periods: The first and second period were like night and day,” Terrier coach Jack Parker said. “The first period they got the goal; they tic-tac-toed on the power play; we couldn’t stop them at all. And we went back on our heels to about the 15-minute mark of the first period. It was shades of Harvard earlier in the year.
“The second period was just the opposite: I thought we dominated. We had all kinds of opportunities, all kinds of time of possession. Who knows how that happens other than that we got some confidence and wore them down.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead acknowledged that it was one of the more intriguing games this season.
“Disappointing loss for us obviously, but I was very impressed with BU,” Whitehead said. “We carried most of the play in the first, but I thought BU carried all of the play in the second, and then the third was kind of a tossup. I’d have to watch the game on tape; it was a bit of a tough game-a lot of swings of momentum in that game and a lot of crazy bounces each way, and a three-on-three. I haven’t seen that in forever. It was an interesting game, but I like how BU bounced back in the second. That was a big win for them.”
Maine wasted little time taking the lead, scoring on their first power play at 2:12. Michel Léveillé shot from the point, and Greg Moore tapped in the rebound without any difficulty. The shots were already 7-0 Black Bears, with the Agganis faithful offering a derisive cheer when the Terriers got their first shot on goal at 4:58.
BU had one glimmer of hope at 9:30 when a careless clear by the Black Bears led to a John Laliberte shot that squarely pegged the post on Matt Lundin’s glove side. Otherwise, it was all Maine through most of the period until BU surprisingly tied it at 18:44.
MacArthur backhanded a shot into the crease, where it hit Roche’s skate and ended up in the net. Referee Tim Benedetto decisively waved off the goal but then had a lengthy deliberation with his linesmen. It was an odd situation: the BU fans figured out it was going to be a goal by watching the body language of Black Bear captain Moore while Benedetto explained the situation to Moore and Terrier co-captain Brad Zancanaro.
“It was hard to tell,” Whitehead admitted. “Apparently after [Roche] kicked it, he got his stick on it… I thought [Benedetto] was in good position to make the call, so that’s why I was surprised it was waved off. But at the same time I’m sure [linesman] Bob [Bernard] was in good position too, so maybe Tim didn’t get as good a look as he thought.
“I saw the replay of the goal they allowed, and I think it was a goal this year,” Parker said. “It wouldn’t have been a goal last year because any type if there was any type of movement at all toward the net it shouldn’t be a goal last year. This year as long as you didn’t kick it-he was just striding toward the net; he didn’t purposely kick it. I think it’s the right call. I don’t like that rule, but I’m glad it was in effect tonight. That was a big lift for us.”
Despite outshooting BU, 17-5, the Black Bears went into the first intermission tied, 1-1.
“It may have given us a false sense of security that we had a big shot total, but I thought Curry was great again,” Whitehead said. “He was great up at our rink when we lost, 2-1, and I thought he was fabulous again. I thought we came out just way too nonchalant in the second period. It obviously cost us.”
Undoubtedly true: BU outshot Maine, 18-4, in the second period. Oddly, though, neither team scored, and two lopsided periods had the same result of keeping the game even. MacArthur hit a post, and Laliberte muscled his way to the net before backhanding a pass to Zancanaro crashing the net, but no dice on the scoreboard.
Despite BU having all the momentum, Maine scored just 12 seconds into the third period. Curry almost got caught out of the net but got back into position only to have Moore squeeze a shot between his pads and the post.
BU tied the game again at 4:44 on a highlight-reel goal. Zancanaro fired a long pass to set up Laliberte for a breakaway. The senior power forward held the puck until Lundin lunged forward, and then he roofed it beautifully to make it 2-2.
Léveillé was injured on a fluke play at 11:49. With a hip check, Jekabs Redlihs sent the crafty forward flying into the end of the BU bench, and Léveillé’s legs caught the partition separating the bench from the stands. He had to be helped off the ice and didn’t seem to be moving either leg well at all.
Altogether, it was a bad night for the Black Bears on the injury front: they may be missing two defensemen as well as Léveillé tomorrow.
“We don’t know,” Whitehead said when asked about Léveillé, who is tied for the team lead in points with Moore. “We’ll be missing two of the guys: [Bret Tyler] will be out, probably Plaszcz too.”
After a flurry of power plays boiled down to the aforementioned three-on-three, the teams finally got back to full strength, setting the stage for the game-winner with 70 seconds left. MacArthur did an excellent job of fighting off a Steve Mullin hip check along the right-wing boards before crossing to Roche, who made a slight deke before going to his forehand to beat Lundin stick side.
“I think it started off in the defensive zone.” MacArthur said. “Brandon Yip did a good job of getting low and just throwing it up to me on the boards. They’ve been telling us all night that we can take the D wide, so I just kept my feet moving. Luckily, I was able to get around him, and Roche did a great job busting to the net and making a move.”
The Terriers (9-8-2, 7-6-1 Hockey East) host the Black Bears (14-7-0, 7-5-0) again on Saturday. The game has been rescheduled to a 5 p.m. start to accommodate fans who want to watch the New England Patriots’ playoff game at 8 p.m.