Although No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey avoided a series sweep at the hands of No. 13 Maine after Ryan Leonard knotted the contest at two goals apiece late in the third period to send it to overtime, BC failed to score another goal and split the series outright with the Black Bears. After overtime ended in a 2–2 tie, it took a shootout to determine which team would leave the ice with an extra Hockey East point.
It took seven BC skaters before Lukas Gustafsson’s number was called to try and put the game away, and he answered the call. Taking the puck on his stick at center ice, Gustafsson made his way toward the crease where he proceeded to chop his skates and send a backhanded shot into the net to win the shootout and give BC (7–2–1, 2–1–1 Hockey East) the extra league point over the Black Bears (6–1–1, 3–0–1).
“There was more detail defensively, there was more physicality,” BC head coach Greg Brown said of the game compared to BC’s loss on Friday. “There was more physicality, I thought, especially by our team. You know, they played physical both nights—I thought it was better for us tonight in that regard.”
The Eagles had their first high-quality scoring opportunity when Gabe Perreault corralled the puck and found himself in a wide-open one on one with Maine goalkeeper Victor Ostman. But at the last second, Perreualt’s stick lost the puck and the Black Bears’ defense arrived just moments later to prevent the early score.
The stalemate continued until the 1:19 mark in the first period, when the Black Bears found themselves deep in BC’s defending zone and pressing goaltender Jacob Fowler. A no-look pass from behind the net to in front of the crease launched a battle for the puck, but eventually Félix Trudeau found it and sent a quick shot past Fowler to make it a 1–0 game.
The Eagles almost instantly went on the penalty kill to start the second period. BC, however, escaped the man disadvantage without allowing a second goal. Eight seconds after the completion of the penalty, the Eagles dribbled the puck down the ice and mounted an offensive attack. Leonard skated to center ice and passed it toward the right circle where Perreault sent a screaming one-timer into the top-right corner of the goal to knot the game at one.
Maine’s Josh Nadeau recorded a penalty for high-sticking at the 8:52 mark, which gave BC an opportunity to take its first lead of the series. Thirty-five seconds into that power play, Luke Antonacci received a hooking penalty, and BC went on a 5-on-3 man advantage.
The Eagles have the No. 13 power-play unit in the nation and despite having a two-man advantage, the Black Bears still killed both penalties and prevented BC from scoring.
“Yeah, we rushed it,” Brown said. “Those guys know each other so well and we’ve only had one other one and they were calm and they moved it. And this time they were trying to make a home run pass right away, just had to be a little more patient.”
The Eagles went on their final advantage of the second frame when Thomas Freel recorded a cross-checking penalty. But once again, BC could not capitalize.
Four minutes into the third frame, the referees called Oskar Jellvik for a tripping penalty. BC killed the advantage, but captain Eamon Powell quickly picked up another penalty for the Eagles.
And this time, the Black Bears capitalized. With eight minutes left in regulation, Nadeau potted the power-play goal to put the Black Bears up 2–1.
But less than four minutes later, the Eagles responded. Ostman rejected a Will Smith missile, but Leonard was in position to grab the rebound and send the puck into the wide-open net to make it a 2–2 game.
“Great power-play goal by Maine in the third,” Brown said. “Felt we did a great job after that goal. We really pushed the pace and responded well, so it was nice to be rewarded there.”
Fowler stood his ground in the final minute and a half to send the game to overtime. The freshman warded off 10 total shots in the frame and 33 shots in the entire game.
Despite having a 4-on-3 advantage in overtime due to Maine having too many players on the ice, BC failed to put the game away in regulation.
“Disappointing that we didn’t cash in on those,” Brown said.
After a string of missed attempts, Gustafsson stepped up for BC and potted the winning goal to give BC the shootout win.
“I thought both teams played hard and it was a pretty good hockey game,” Brown said. “It was a good hockey atmosphere, it was great.”