After Ryan Leonard’s goal cut Maine’s lead to 3–2 with 8:33 left in Friday night’s top-15 matchup, officials sent Harrison Scott to the penalty box for holding just eight seconds later—a big mistake at a crucial moment in the game.
This put Boston College men’s hockey on the power play, giving the Eagles a chance to carry their momentum from the Leonard goal into a potential game-tying tally. The man advantage had already connected earlier in the night, as Jack Malone potted BC’s first goal of the game on the power play in the first frame.
But the Eagles couldn’t get in sync and light the scoring lamp this time around, due in part to two faceoff losses from two of BC’s top players, Will Smith and Cutter Gauthier.
Abysmal faceoffs were a thorn in the flesh for the Eagles all night, as BC went just .281 from the dot, a ludicrously low mark—even for a team that has averaged a .489 clip on the season.
No. 13 Maine (6–1–0, 3–0–0 Hockey East) defeated No. 1 Boston College (7–2–0, 2–1–0) 4–2, ending BC’s four-game win streak and delivering the Eagles their first loss in Hockey East action.
“You know, they outworked us, played smarter than we did,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “And then both teams made some plays, but they were just together more than we were.”
The first period of the game set the tone for the matchup. The Alfond Arena faithful loved the fast-paced, physical game that both teams put forth, and they made themselves heard throughout the frame.
Neither team got on the board in the first 20 minutes.
The best opportunity of the period for BC happened when Aram Minnetian and Andre Gasseau found themselves against no defenders. Minnetian skated into the zone with Gasseau flanking him on his left, and he made the unselfish play by sliding the puck across the slot to Gasseau, who failed to elevate his shot over Maine goaltender Victor Östman’s right pad.
“That was a great save,” Brown said about Östman’s sprawling play.
For the Black Bears, the best chance came on another two-man play when Bradly Nadeau had the puck deep in BC’s zone and fired a centering pass right in front of Jacob Fowler’s net. The pass found the stick of Bradly’s brother, Josh Nadeau, but Fowler was up to the task.
Both goals in the second frame, one from each team, came within two minutes of each other, and Malone was at the center of both.
First, Malone turned the puck over to Josh Nadeau in BC’s zone, and Josh found Bradly, who fired a shot through Fowler’s legs. Lynden Breen cleaned it up on a tap-in, putting the Black Bears on top 1–0 4:26 into the period.
“They were able to cause a lot of turnovers in the neutral zone and in our zone, and kept the pressure on us much more than we did on them,” Brown said.
A roughing call on Maine’s Liam Lesakowski 43 seconds later gave the Eagles a chance to respond, and they did. Malone avenged the mistake he made on his own end by putting one past Östman on a pass from Gabe Perreault, tying the game up 1:31 after Maine took the lead, and bringing BC’s power play to 27 percent conversion on the year.
The Nadeau brothers continued to bother BC, this time with Bradly finding Josh at the back door, who put the puck in the back of the net to momentarily give Maine the lead.
That stuck until Brown challenged the play, which clearly showed that it was offsides on the replay. The game remained 1–1, but Maine still got the power play from an Eamon Powell high-sticking call. This was never in question, as unlike the NHL, NCAA hockey uses a double-jeopardy rule so that even if a goal is scored on a delayed penalty, the power play still resumes.
Maine jumped to a hot start in the third period that proved to be too much for BC to come back from.
“Yeah, they had more jump in the third for sure, but maybe it’s because I thought they managed the game better the first two periods,” Brown said.
Donavan Villeneuve-Houle fired home a quick wrister directly off a faceoff win by Scott 1:23 into the frame to give Maine a 2–1 lead, and Bradly sniped the top of the net from just inside the blue line on the rush exactly two minutes later to extend the lead to two goals.
BC called timeout after the Nadeau goal to regroup, but it didn’t generate much offense out of the break. It wasn’t until Perreault found Leonard at the back door nearly 10 minutes later that the Eagles would cut into the Black Bears’ lead, making it 3–2.
BC pulled Fowler with 2:35 left, but it all came crashing down when Grayson Arnott found that empty net from his own zone with 1:02 left to cap off Maine’s upset and give the nation’s top-ranked Eagles an early-season check. The affair ended 4–2 in the Black Bears’ favor.
“You know, we had some spurts and some plays, but overall, they were doing more things right than we were,” Brown said. “Probably why they had better legs in the third.”