CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The University of Maine’s Hockey East game against Boston College Friday night got off to an inauspicious start when Barry Almeida finished off a textbook two-on-one with Matt Price just 35 seconds into the game.
It never got any better for the Black Bears as the Eagles added three second-period goals and two more in the third to bring a resounding end to Maine’s nine-game unbeaten streak 6-1 at Conte Forum.
BC improved to 12-6-2 overall and 9-4-2 in Hockey East. Maine fell to 11-8-2 and 8-5-1 entering a game at Providence College tonight. Providence upset Boston University 3-1 Friday night. Maine had been 7-0-2 in its last nine games.
BC is now 5-0-1 in its last six meetings with Maine at Conte Forum. Before Friday night, BC had been the last team to beat Maine, 4-3 on Nov. 20.
Maine freshman goalie Shawn Sirman, filling in for the injured Scott Darling, who had started the last 14 games, could not be faulted as his mates hung him out to dry.
“They outworked us. They won loose pucks. They were hungrier than we were,” said Maine junior defenseman and assistant captain Jeff Dimmen.
Almeida and Ben Smith, who opened the second-period flurry with a power-play goal at the 2:48 mark, hadn’t scored a goal in their previous eight games.
Cam Atkinson iced the game with goals 38 seconds a part midway through the middle period.
Atkinson has now scored 10 goals in his last 10 games.
Maine sophomore right wing Gustav Nyquist had a good opportunity from the middle of the slot just after the opening faceoff but John Muse made the save and, seconds later, Price carried the puck down the ice with Almeida on the two-on-one.
“Matt Lombardi flipped the puck out of the [defensive] zone and one of their defensemen tried to get it but it went over his head to me,” said Price. “The goalie came out toward me and I fed it over to Barry.”
Price’s precise pass gave Almeida a virtually empty net as Sirman desperately tried to scramble over and Almeida calmly roofed it.
“It’s always nice to score on the first shift,” said Price, the BC captain. “I thought we played a solid 60 minutes tonight.”
Maine squandered a 13-second two-man advantage later in the period and Maine coach Tim Whitehead said those two power plays were reflective of the game.
“Nobody was willing to stick his nose in there and get the puck. Nobody was willing to pay the price. I’m very disappointed with the way we played,” said Whitehead.
Early in the second period, Muse came up with an important save after Nyquist split the defense and broke in alone.
“I was getting hooked and couldn’t put it over his glove,” said Nyquist.
“He didn’t get much on it and I got my glove on it,” said Muse who turned in an impressive 25-save performance although he rarely had to make any second saves as his mates did an exceptional job clearing the net front.
Smith made it 2-0 shortly afterward when Joe Whitney took a point-to-point pass from Carl Sneep and snapped a wrister that Smith deflected past Sirman into the short-side corner.
“It was going one way and completely changed direction,” said Sirman.
Atkinson expanded the lead at the 9:27 mark when he glided down the middle of the slot and directed a Brian Gibbons pass from the corner past Sirman.
“I just wanted to get off a quick one-timer and it went five-hole,” said Atkinson.
Just 38 second later, Biddeford’s Brian Dumoulin took a shot from the point that deflected over to Atkinson, who was able to spin off his check and sweep the puck home.
“The puck dropped right at my stick and I was able to do a ‘spinerama’ and put it far side,” said Atkinson.
Nyquist hit the crossbar late in the period.
Joe Whitney made it 5-0 early in the third period before Mike Banwell ruined Muse’s shutout bid on the power play with a screened wrister from the point.
Jimmy Hayes capped the scoring at the expense of David Wilson, who replaced Sirman after the fifth goal.
“We knew they had a new goalie so we wanted to get as many shots as we could,” said Atkinson.
“We had our chances. We’re always going to get scoring chances. But the worst part was our defensive play,” said Maine junior center and captain Tanner House. “We were ready to make excuses before the game even started. We’ve got to be better than that.”
BC coach Jerry York called it “one of our best games of the year.”
BC used it superior speed and tenacity to cycle the puck in the Maine zone and crash the net. The Eagles were also able to generate chances off transition thanks to their back-checking profiency.
Whitehead felt both Sirman (22 saves) and Wilson (11 stops) played very well but were victimized by the lackluster play of their teammates.
BC outshot Maine 39-26.