Men’s Hockey Caps Season with Weekend Sweep of Maine, Hockey East Regular Season Championship
By JD Biagioni
Who: Maine Black Bears
Where: Conte Forum
When: Friday, February 23
Result: BC 6 – Maine 3
It was trophy night at Conte Forum, as a flurry of goals in the final 40 minutes of play propelled BC past Maine and secured the Hockey East regular season championship for the Eagles.
BC controlled play in the first few minutes of a physical first period but was unable to manufacture any quality scoring chances. Maine got on the board first, 8:05 into the game. The Eagles turned the puck over in their own zone and Michael Fossier came away with it. He wheeled out to the blue line and paddled the puck across the ice to an in-stride Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi. Tiuraniemi gathered the puck and let go a shot at the left dot that sailed over Joe Woll’s shoulder and into the far corner of the net.
The Eagles were unable to convert on any of their 14 first period shots, but they wasted little time evening the score once the second period began. The red-hot Logan Hutsko entered the attacking zone with speed and was able to skate his way around the Maine defense. He protected the puck from a diving Brady Keeper and went forehand-backhand to sneak one around Maine netminder and Boston Bruins prospect Jeremey Swayman.
Two unexpected heroes then accounted for the next three Eagles goals. Kevin Lohan, in his third game back since missing a month with a broken jaw, gave BC the lead with his first goal of the season at 6:07 of the second. In a wild sequence of events, Michael Kim flung one on net, but the puck deflected off Christopher Brown’s leg and into the far corner. Lohan pinched down to scoop the puck up and carried it behind the goal. He tried to drop the puck off out front, but the pass deflected off of Swayman’s pads and in. Later in the middle frame, Lohan struck again. Kim forced a turnover in the Maine zone and dropped the puck off to Lohan for a one-timer that flew past Swayman.
BC took a 3-1 lead into the dressing room, and Casey Carreau added to that total with the first goal of his collegiate career early in the third. Zack Walker picked up the loose puck at the blue line and skated into the attacking zone. After a few strides towards net, he saw Carreau open at the left dot. Walker punched the puck across the ice and Carreau slammed it home.
Emil Westerlund pulled Maine within two just minutes later. Amid heavy traffic in front of the goal, Brendan Robbins mishit a slapper and the puck slowly made its way toward the goal. Woll made the initial save but the puck pinballed around, kicked off of Westerlund’s skate, and slid into the net.
BC was able to regain the three goal lead shortly thereafter on a great tic-tac-toe play from the first line. Hutsko skated in front of the net and maintained enough control as he fell to slide the puck over to David Cotton. Cotton, seeing that the quick tuck wouldn’t work, wisely sent the puck back across the crease to JD Dudek who had no trouble burying the Eagles fifth goal.
Maine, in full desperation mode, started playing a dangerous style of hockey. Multiple hard and illegal hits landed the Eagles a 5-on-3 opportunity. BC took its time setting up a play off the offensive zone draw before Casey Fitzgerald put the nail in the Black Bear coffin with a rocket from the left hash marks.
Maine was able to get one more goal, but it wasn’t enough, as the final horn sounded and the Eagles rushed onto the ice to celebrate a Hockey East regular season championship.
Number to know: 3 – BC goals scored in the game by players who came in with no goals on the season.
Who: Maine Black Bears
Where: Conte Forum
When: Saturday, February 24
Result: BC 2 – Maine 1
The two now-familiar teams met for one last time as BC closed out the regular season with a weekend sweep of Maine.
David Cotton lit the lamp first for the Eagles just over halfway through the first. JD Dudek had the puck out front and zipped one over to Cotton. Cotton unsuccessfully tried to jam it home and the puck bounced behind the net. Cotton was able to secure his rebound behind Jeremy Swayman, fake-out a Maine defender, and snake back around to fling the puck over Swayman’s pads.
BC doubled its lead on a second period power play goal. Graham McPhee held the puck at the corner boards and shuffled it along to Aapeli Rasanen out front. Rasanen fired a one-timer that caught Swayman up high. Christopher Brown came in and batter the puck out of the air and into the back of the net.
Woll turned aside a Maine penalty shot midway through the second, but the Black Bears struck on the power play with just over a minute to play in the in the middle frame. Mitchell Frossier skated down the left side of the attacking zone and zipped the puck across the ice to Rob Michel. Michel accepted the pass and got Maine to within one.
No goals were scored in the final 20 minutes and BC held on to win. A frantic final minute of play saw two game misconducts, one on Graham McPhee for cross-checking and the other on Frossier for slashing.
A regular season championship is nice but the Eagles came into the weekend ranked 20th in both national polls. After the sweep of Maine, they sit at 16 in the Pairwise ranking system. BC, in all likelihood, will need to take care of business in the Hockey East tournament if it wants to receive consideration for the Frozen Four. BC lands a bye in the first weekend of the playoffs and will host the lowest remaining seed in two weekends for a best of three series at Conte Forum.
Number to know: 3 – the number of non-Hockey East points BC earned this season.