Superman has kryptonite, and in recent years, Boston College men’s hockey has had Maine.
After the Black Bears recorded a pair of overtime wins over BC in the 2019-20 season, Maine seemed to be one of BC’s only weaknesses. On Friday night, the Eagles came dangerously close to repeating last year’s fate.
The Eagles found themselves shorthanded by two players with roughly 12 minutes left to play in the third period, allowing Maine forward Brad Morrissey to quickly squeeze the puck through BC goaltender Spencer Knight’s five-hole and tie the score at 2-2. Less than two minutes later, sophomore star Alex Newhook fired a slap shot into the top corner of the net to take back the lead on the power play.
With 57 seconds left in the game and on a power play, Matt Boldy sealed the 4-2 win for the Eagles, scoring an empty-netter from inside his own zone.
Entering the weekend, Maine (2-8-1) had not played a game in nearly a month due to COVID-19 cancellations, while No. 1 BC (14-3-1) held an 8-1-1 record in its previous 10 games. Despite—or maybe because of—its break from hockey, Maine put up a fight, and both teams went scoreless through the first period.
BC dominated the ice through 20 minutes with 13 shots in comparison to Maine’s five, but the Eagles faced five penalties, giving the Black Bears several opportunities to score. Following matching penalties on Maine forward Brady Gaudette for roughing and Newhook for holding, officials called two more on Tim Lovell and Marshall Warren, giving the Black Bears 44 seconds of 5-on-3 play and two minutes of power play to start the second period.
“We just got to be smarter, especially early in the game, that was just stick penalties. … It’s not helping,” BC head coach Jerry York said in his postgame press conference.
While the penalties gave Maine the advantage heading into the second period, it was the Eagles who put up the first point. Boldy sprinted down the left lane and spun a backhand shot, scoring his second shorthanded goal this season, and the Eagles’ nation-leading seventh.
The intensity of the game seemed to escalate following Boldy’s goal, and the Black Bears took advantage of the increasing momentum when they responded with a goal of their own less than two minutes later. Assisted by AJ Drobot and JD Greenway, Tristan Poissant shoveled the puck past Knight to tie the game with his second goal of the season.
Despite the efforts, BC ultimately dominated the second period as captain Marc McLaughlin shoveled in the puck at the right post following a forecheck from Casey Carreau. With 11:51 left, McLaughlin scored his team-high ninth goal of the season, giving the Eagles the lead once again.
Both goalies had strong showings, as BC and Maine fought head to head at the net. Matthew Thiessen kept Maine alive with 28 saves, including a point-blank save on a breakaway by Colby Ambrosio late in the second period.
Knight, meanwhile, made 24 saves. Following last weekend’s two victories, Knight ranked second nationally in winning percentage (0.893) and eighth in save percentage (0.935).
“We can’t, you know, get out of structure and get caught in the offensive zone giving up rushes coming back, but I thought Spencer covered [us] really well,” York said.
The Eagles’ hard-fought win gave them their 14th victory of the season and highlighted their stamina and talent.
“I thought our team battled well,” York said. “We skated very hard, made some good offensive plays. I felt very pleased with the game.”
The Eagles face a rematch with Maine on Saturday evening.
“I expect another tight, tight game, you know, Maine is a good club,” York said. “It’s going to be a physical game—really quick and fast.”
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor