In the previous regular season meeting between these two Hockey East rivals back in January, the Terriers won 1-0 in a game that featured 268 total combined penalty minutes, 11 players ejected and a fight between Maine’s Jon Jankus and then-Terrier Ryan Whitney. So it should come as no surprise that there is definitely some animosity between these two teams when they get together. On Sunday, the animosity was very much evident although unlike the January meeting, it didn’t feature a near bench clearing brawl nor a fight. However there were two ejections (one for each team). Both teams were also missing two key players. Bryan “Boomer” Ewing is out with a separated shoulder and is expected to be out for another 2-4 weeks. Meanwhile, Maine was without the services of one of their best players in Michel Leveille, who is out with an undisclosed injury.
The Terriers came out with the early jump and got a good scoring chance early. It didn’t take long before the Terriers got the physical side of things going as well. BU drew the first penalty of the game at the 2:42 mark when freshman forward Brian McGuirk (CBJ) was called for an elbow. BU was very solid on their penalty killing. Maine managed to get some shots off but only or two of the quality variety. After killing off the penalty, the Terriers went right back to work and did a nice job of keeping the play in the Maine zone for an extended period of time. Junior goaltender Jimmy Howard (DET) kept BU off the board making several key saves in the flurry of Terriers shots he faced, including a low slapshot taken by BU sophomore defenseman Sean Sullivan (PHX). It would be the first of several very good chances that Sullivan would get throughout the game. One line that was sensational for the Terriers in this game was the re-tooled “kid” line of freshmen Chris Bourque (WSH) and Peter MacArthur and sophomore Eric Thomassian, who filled in very nicely for the injured Boomer Ewing. A good odd-man play developed between Bourque and MacArthur that nearly resulted in a BU goal. However, these two youngsters would get another crack at the Maine net and finally cash in. At the 7:18 mark, MacArthur would get BU on the board first. It began with a flurry inside the Maine zone. Black Bears’ sophomore forward Josh Soares makes an attempt to clear the zone only to have his clearing attempt be kept in by BU senior defenseman Bryan Miller. Miller then gets the puck, wheels around and flings a shot at the Black Bears net. Several Maine players get a stick on it but none get possession. It ends up pinballing around before Maine junior forward Jon Jankus unintentionally slides the puck over to the left side of the net with his right skate blade. There Bourque darts in from the point to take a shot on goal. Howard makes the save but gives up a rebound that comes out to MacArthur who is parked on the doorstep on the opposite side of the net. MacArthur then proceeds to tap it by Howard for the score. At the time the puck was tapped in, Howard had lost his stick but it didn’t seem to matter. Bourque and Miller would draw the assists on MacArthur’s goal. Maine continued to have problems getting out of their own as BU relentlessly attacked the puck carriers and were winning the one-on-one battles as well as had more of the intensity. Toward the middle of the period as the pace slowed a bit, Maine finally were getting out of their zone and being able to get some scoring chances on shots on the BU, forcing Terriers sophomore goaltender John Curry to come up with some big saves. At the 10:15 mark, Maine would answer BU’s goal on a terrific set play by seniors Ben Murphy and John Ronan. The play began with a faceoff win by Murphy. Murphy does a nice job of getting around diminutive BU junior forward Brad Zancanaro to get to the loose puck. Murphy then dishes the puck over to Ronan who is just on the doorstep of the BU crease area. Ronan backhands a shot at the BU net but has it stopped by Curry’s outstretched stick. Curry, unable to corral the loose puck, ends up giving Ronan another shot at the net and Ronan taps it by Curry’s stick for the goal. Murphy would draw the lone assist on the goal. Later in the period, Howard is again forced to make some great saves as BU gets several good scoring opportunities on the power play. The Bourque-MacArthur-Thomassian line would get some more great scoring opportunities in the latter stages of the period. Another odd-man situation led to great scoring chance for Bourque. This time it was some great timing by Bourque taking an excellent feed by Thomassian. What prevented the score was the fact that the puck was bouncing and Bourque just couldn’t get it to settle down. While Bourque’s line created some great scoring chances for BU, Maine wasn’t about to be outdone. Junior Greg Moore (NYR) got a terrific scoring chance late in the period. Moore, who possesses excellent foot speed, charged into the BU zone and with a BU defender draped all over him at the net, somehow gets his stick out to get a scoring opportunity, only to have it stopped by Curry on a shot that looked to be going a bit wide of the net.
The second period saw Maine come out with the early jump. They did a very good of pressuring the Terriers, winning both the puck and one-on-one battles. Before long, things would get chippy as BU junior John Laliberte (VAN) and Maine freshman forward Billy Ryan (NYR) decided to exchange some not-so-friendly words and slashes that would earn them both a trip to the penalty box. A little later in the period, one of the best hits of the game came when Sullivan leveled Maine sophomore forward Mike Hamilton along the boards. As the period progressed, the momentum began to shift back to BU. About midway through the period, one of the best non-scoring plays occurred when Laliberte makes an almost perfect, end-to-end pass to a streaking Bourque. Bourque gets a decent shot off but again Howard is there to make the save. At the 13:34 mark, junior defenseman Steve Mullin would be called off for a hit from behind that would put the Terriers back on the power play. At the 14:36 mark, senior Brian McConnell (CGY) would give the Terriers the lead for good. It all began with a great keep-in by Bourque at the left point. He dishes to Miller who then dishes McConnell. McConnell, parked between Bourque and Miller at the Maine blueline proceeds to fire a hard slapper that goes way wide of the net and banks off of the glass. Junior David Van der Gulik (CGY) is there to retrieve the loose puck at the goal line. He wheels around to pass it back to McConnell who is now parked in the slot area. McConnell gets the pass, shifts into a better shooting position then fires a blistering low wrister that beats Howard just underneath his right leg pad for the score. Van der Gulik and Miller would be credited with the assists. Almost immediately after the goal, Bourque gets yet another breakaway chance on Howard, but Howard gets to the puck before Bourque does to make the save. As the period progresses BU picks up the hard hitting/checking and whenever possible tries to grind things out. Maine however was up to the task and if they weren’t, Howard was. Lots of intensity and good end-to-end action.
The final period began with the Terriers on a five-minute power play. At the 20:00 mark of the second period, on a situation that could only be described as “boneheaded”, Maine sophomore Mike Hamilton (ATL) spears what looked to be BU junior defenseman Dan Spang (SJ) in the mid-section. Hamilton was given a five-minute major and a game disqualification, meaning he would be automatically suspended for Maine’s next game. The power play didn’t turn into much of a blessing for BU as the Terriers didn’t look all that sharp on the man advantage. Moore, who had been wreaking havoc on the Terriers for much of the night continued to do so on the early power play. At the 1:52 mark, BU sophomore Kenny Roche (NYR) would nullify the rest of BU’s power play after receiving a five-minute major and a game DQ of his own for a checking from behind call. While it was unintentional and Roche did his best to let up on Maine sophomore forward Keith Johnson, Johnson was in a vulnerable position, nearly going head first into the sideboards, prompting such a severe call that was much to the chagrin of the Walter Brown Arena crowd and the BU bench. As the period went along, both teams continued to have some excellent scoring opportunities with both goaltenders coming up with very big saves. BU began to pick up their aggressive forechecking that were effective in breaking up developing Black Bears plays. In the middle stage of the period, Maine got into penalty trouble, but were excellent on their penalty killing as they kept the Terriers off the boards thanks to some very good pressure on the puck carriers and getting into passing lanes. The game’s intensity would continue to escalate but the referees did an outstanding job of keeping things in check. At the final buzzer, BU won 2-1. Both teams and their respective goaltenders played an excellent game. Both teams were very good in tight checking situations and creating very good scoring opportunities for themselves. But what won the game for BU was their solid play from beginning to end to shut down Maine as often as possible. At times it wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. Both teams were guilty of too many odd-man situations however and were it not for the stellar goaltending of both goalies, the score would’ve been much higher. Bourque and fellow freshman Peter MacArthur continue to be very impressive for BU. Both helped to create some stellar scoring chances and added some real excitement to the game. The same could be said of Greg Moore as well as the Black Bears’ line combo of freshman Billy Ryan and seniors John Ronan and Ben Murphy. The game’s statistics were virtually identical throughout the game, giving an indication of how well matched these two teams are.
Boston University travels to the Whittemore Center on Friday to take on host UNH, while Maine returns home to host Boston College at Alfond Arena also on Friday.