While Maine entered Friday’s contest against Boston College men’s hockey as a winner in three of its last four games, the Eagles entered the matchup on the opposite end of the spectrum—winless in their last seven games.
And even though there have been stretches of light throughout BC’s drought, the Eagles’ winless streak continued Friday night in Conte Forum.
“We’ve played some very good hockey in this stretch of non-wins,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “And usually, you’re going to win a few of those games and start to feel better about yourself, but with the ties and losses in the last few games, and then culminating with the Harvard game, where we did everything we could in the third period but didn’t come away with a win. You know, it’s not like the frustration of that one game, but just the overall feel.”
BC (9–12–6, 5–8–5 Hockey East) quickly dug itself into a hole it couldn’t climb out of against the Black Bears (13–13–2, 7–9–1), going down 2–0 14 minutes into the game. While the Eagles cut Maine’s lead to one with less than four minutes left to play in the game, the Black Bears put BC out of its misery with another goal at the 18:26 mark of the third period, handing the Eagles a 3–1 loss.
“Right from the beginning, we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be,” Brown said. “I think the guys without the puck were not supporting the puck enough, kind of were watching the guy who had the puck instead of, you know, everybody’s gotta help all the time, whether it’s offensively or defensively.”
Maine’s Lyden Breen netted the first goal of the night just over five minutes into the first period. Brown, however, challenged the goal in hopes of a major penalty against the Black Bears. Ultimately, Brown’s challenge was unsuccessful and he lost a timeout in the process—the beginning of BC’s downward spiral.
The Eagles killed off Maine’s first power play after Mike Posma received a hooking penalty at the 5:37 mark in the first frame. Just over eight minutes later, Maine’s Thomas Freel got two minutes for interference, giving BC its first man advantage of the night. But Didrik Henbrant snuck one past BC goaltender Mitch Benson for a shorthanded goal with six minutes left in the period.
“Obviously, getting those two in the first period really helped us and our goalie played really well.” Maine head coach Ben Barr said.
The second period remained scoreless—even though BC recorded two power plays. The Eagles recorded four power plays all night, but none of them resulted in goals.
“Probably trying to be too careful, too precise, because the last few games, our power plays have been, you know, really moving the puck well and getting a lot of chances,” Brown said. “And they hadn’t all got in. We’ve got a couple goals but the tempo and attack mindset was excellent but not as good tonight. Again I think that probably snowballs from the effect of the last few games.”
Despite several well-executed plays between Trevor Kuntar and Cutter Gauthier, BC still couldn’t score a goal. The Eagles appeared visibly frustrated from their lack of offensive success.
“We did generate some chances and didn’t score, but you got to keep going, keep generating chances especially when you’re behind,” Brown said.
The third period remained scoreless until Kuntar notched BC’s first—and only—goal at the 16:07 mark, assisted by Andre Gasseau and Gauthier to cut Maine’s lead to 2–1. Kuntar tallied his 10th goal of the season.
The Eagles’ hope, however, was quickly diminished. Just over two minutes later, Donavan Villeneuve-Houle registered Maine’s third goal of the night on BC’s empty net. Officials called Eamon Powell for tripping on the play, putting him in the box for the final minutes of the game which delivered a fatal blow to the Eagles’ chances.
“We have to really step back and rely on our foundation and be simple and be good at what we’re good at and really play our game,” Brown said. “I think if we can do that Monday, and carry that to the next weekend and the next weekend, hopefully by the time we hit playoffs, you know, we’re feeling a lot better about ourselves.”