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MEN'S HOCKEY: Swept Away At Conte

Injuries Force York To Shuffle Lineup And Reposition Starters

Assoc. Sports Editor

Published: Monday, January 28, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 00:01

Defeat

Alex Gaynor / Heights Editor

Looking to redeem itself after Friday’s loss and avoid a sweep at home, the Boston College men’s hockey team faced off against the Maine Black Bears on Saturday night. Yet BC’s sense of urgency and aggressiveness on offense could not stifle the visiting team’s sudden momentum, as the Eagles fell by a final score of 3-1.

“I thought our club was markedly improved from last night,” said head coach Jerry York after the game. “I thought we were more determined, there was more effort. The results were the same. You’ve got to give Maine credit to come into our building—and not many people have done that over the last decade here and won both games.”

Saturday’s loss not only marked the first time the Eagles had dropped two consecutive matchups at Kelley Rink since the 2008-09 season, but also the first time BC was swept in a weekend series at home since 1993—against Maine. 

The first period was a back-and-forth battle marked by unexecuted opportunities on goal from both offenses. Just when it seemed the Eagles would head into the first intermission in a goalless deadlock, Maine’s Will Merchant came to a screeching halt with the puck and fed it to forward Jon Swavely for a quick wrister past goalie Brian Billet. 

York’s Eagles looked poised to respond in the second period, however, as defenseman Patrick Wey sent a shot screaming past Maine goalie Martin Ouellette. Yet after hitting the crossbar, the puck ricocheted straight down, bounced off the goal line, and away from the net. Though the play was put under review, the original no-goal call was confirmed. The near miss was not only another missed scoring opportunity for BC, but also a decisive moment that shifted the game’s momentum immediately back to Maine’s side.

“I know everyone jumped up and thought it was in,” said junior forward Bill Arnold of the play, “but at that point it was still 1-0 and we were right in the game, and we just wanted to keep the momentum going. Once they called no goal, no one complained about it. We just went out and tried to keep playing.”

Despite moving on from Wey’s misfire, BC’s offense was never able to piece together a well-executed scoring strategy on Ouellette, whose own stellar play yielded 24 saves. In the final frame, Maine’s offense put the finishing touches on its successful weekend with a goal from Connor Leen off a rebound and another score from Swavely, whose wrap-around effort beat Billet to put the Black Bears up 3-0. With less than 10 seconds left in regulation, BC’s Patrick Brown re-directed a Teddy Doherty shot into the net to avoid the team’s first shutout loss at home since last year against BU. More than being swept by a struggling Maine team buried in the Hockey East cellar, however, the Eagles’ disappointment from Saturday night’s loss was the result of poor offensive execution.

“I think we played better tonight than we did last night, but at the end of the day there’s a lot of things we can do as a team and individually to get a lot better to prevent some of those opportunities that [Maine] had,” Arnold said. “It just comes down to we didn’t execute the things that we worked on in practice during the week as well as we could have, and they came in really, really hungry.”

The Eagles’ weekend debacle was eerily reminiscent of the sweep they suffered at Maine around this time last year. Of course, last year’s series was the low point that inspired BC’s incomparable 19-game winning streak en route to its fifth national title in program history. Though York realizes it is unrealistic to expect this past weekend to trigger a run reminiscent of last year’s, he sees a home series in which BC was outscored 7-2 as an opportunity for his team to learn, improve, and gear up for a successful stretch run.

“It’s a similar time of the year,” York said. “That’s always our objective—get better and better. I’m not sure if you can go back and say, ‘They beat us twice now, we’re going to win 19 straight games.’ We’re going to prepare this week. We have Vermont here on Friday night. We certainly have to score goals, that’s our biggest obstacle in front of us now.” 

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