No. 3 BU ties No. 7 Maine

0
224

It may have been early November, but this matchup between two talented teams had the feel of a playoff game in March.

A crowd of 6,150 at Agganis Arena relished a see-saw 2-2 tie between seventh ranked Maine and No. 3 Boston University, which now finds itself alone with Yale as the only two unbeaten teams in the nation.

After squandering a 1-0 lead and falling behind 2-1, the Terriers tied it on an extra-attacker goal by freshman Charlie Coyle with 1:21 remaining in regulation.

Maine defenseman Jeff Dimmen had the only multiple-point game, notching a goal and an assist.  Maine goalie Dan Sullivan and BU netminder Kieran Millan both had strong nights, with Sullivan making 28 saves while Millan made 34.

“If you were an innocent bystander, it was a great college hockey game to watch,” BU head coach Jack Parker said.  “It was really exciting; there were lots of great plays.  There were a lot of good players showing what they could do and great goaltending by both kids.”

While letting the win slip away was disappointing for Maine, getting a point on the road was still satisfying—especially given that top power-point defenseman Will O’Neil was lost to a lower body injury on the second shift of the game.  Maine was already without forward Tanner House, and forward Joey Diamond missed much of the later portion of the game with an injury as well.

“We were proud of how the guys competed,” Black Bears head coach Tim Whitehead said. ” To come back down 1-0 was great.  Tough bounce on the second [BU goal]—knocked off of a couple of shin pads—so we had to shake that off, and we did.  We had a couple of good chances in OT.  Overall, considering House and losing O’Neill on the second shift and losing Diamond in the third with an injury, we were pleased.”

Maine went on a two-man advantage less than two minutes into the game, but the Terriers’ penalty kills was resolute all night.  In fact, BU has now killed off 22 straight penalties and 36 of the last 37.  Maine ended up with an 8-4 shot advantage in the first, but that was deceptive: BU had a flurry of chances around the 14-minute mark, but many shots missed the net.

The Terriers also missed out on a highlight-reel goal late in the period when David Warsofsky and Coyle set up Chris Connolly on the doorstep, only to have Sullivan make the save.

The Black Bears dominated early in the second, outshooting BU 10-1 before Parker used his timeout at 8:44.  “Even though we only got four shots in the first period, I thought were playing real well,” Parker said.  “In the first 12 minutes of the second period, I thought Maine was taking it to us and we were standing around watching.  So it was ‘Hey guys, let’s pick it up here instead of waiting around for something bad to happen.'”

Maine nearly scored right after the timeout, when Brian Flynn set up Robby Dee for a shot that caught the underside of the crossbar.  After that, though, BU picked it up.  On a power play at 15:51, they took the lead.  Adam Clendening fed it to Alex Chiasson in the slot, and Chiasson’s decision to forego the shot to pass to Connolly in the left-wing circle surprised everybody.

“Alex created that whole play,” Connolly said.  “I don’t know how he saw me with his back turned, but he did.  The goalie thought he was going to shoot, so I had a wide open net.   That made my job easy.”

BU almost made it 2-0 on a five-on-three early in the third.  In fact, co-captain Joe Pereira seemed adamant that the puck was in the net at one point, but it was ruled no goal after a video review.  There was some sense that a Maine defender had covered a puck with his glove and that there should’ve been a penalty shot as a result.  However, the review process can only be used to determine if a goal was scored, and that could not be confirmed.

Less than a minute later, Maine tied it up.  Dimmen shot from the point, and Millan yielded a rare rebound.  Gustav Nyquist pounced on it and buried it.  Then Maine took the lead on Dimmen’s goal at 6:12.  “It just squirted out there in the slot,” Dimmen said.  “There was some pretty good traffic in the slot.  I tried to get it off quick, and the puck had some eyes.  It was nice.”

Maine almost clinched it at 12:50 when Millan was stricken with wanderlust.  While he seemed in no hurry to get back in the net, Flynn couldn’t get it by a defender in the crease.

BU tied it at 18:39, shortly after Millan was pulled for the extra attacker.  Warsofsky threw the puck into the slot for the right point.  It appeared to carom off a Maine defender and a BU player before Joe Pereira nudged it to Coyle, who backhanded it in.

The Terriers looked spent in the overtime but hung on for the tie.  “I was really impressed with Maine’s defensive corps,” Parker said.  “They did a really good job in front of the net, and they were really good with the puck.  Everybody talks about how good Maine is offensively, but I think their defense as a group is really underrated.”

Parker eschewed the notion that BU should be the number-one team in the nation, but losses by Miami and Minnesota-Duluth could make that happen on Monday afternoon.  The Terriers’ eight-game unbeaten streak to start the season is now second only to the 1977-78 national championship team in program history.  BU (6-0-2 overall, 4-0-2 in Hockey East) faces Merrimack in a home-and-home series next weekend, while Maine (4-1-3, 2-0-1) hosts Northeastern for a pair.