BOSTON — A tie can feel like a win or a loss.
The players on the University of Maine’s men’s hockey team could have justifiably experienced both emotions after Saturday night’s 2-2 overtime tie with Boston University at Agganis Arena.
Freshman center and NHL first-round draft pick Charlie Coyle alertly tapped home a bouncing puck with 1:21 left in regulation to earn the tie for BU.
But the nation’s seventh-ranked Black Bears had rallied from a 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 lead against a third-ranked BU team that had gone 38-1-2 in its last 41 games when taking a lead into the third period. And they did so in an arena in which they had won once in 11 previous tries (1-9-1).
In addition, Maine was without center and captain Tanner House (back injury) and then lost high-scoring junior defenseman Will O’Neill to a lower body injury sustained on his second shift. Sophomore right wing Joey Diamond missed most of the third period with a lower body injury but did play in overtime.
“It was a great team effort to be able to pull together without those key guys and get a point,” said freshman goalie Dan Sullivan, who finished with 28 saves.
“We’ll take it,” said Maine junior right wing and assistant captain Gustav Nyquist, who tied it with a four-on-four goal 2:11 into the third period. “I’m really proud of the team. I think we really worked hard. Both teams played great and the tie was probably the correct result.”
“It was nice to see the resiliency in our team,” said Bear senior defenseman Josh Van Dyk. “We bounced back after they had taken the lead. To steal a point down here is big for us. They’re a good team.”
BU is now 6-0-2 overall, 4-0-2 in Hockey East, while Maine is 4-1-3 and 2-0-1. The Bears extended their unbeaten streak to four games (3-0-1).
BU coach Jack Parker smartly called a timeout after his team was being outshot 10-1 in the second period and the Terriers responded by taking a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Chris Connolly, who has scored six of his career 24 goals against Maine.
After Nyquist’s equalizer, senior defenseman Jeff Dimmen gave Maine the lead 4:01 later.
But BU drew level thanks to a heads-up play by junior defenseman David Warsofsky, who wristed the puck from the right point and saw it snake its way to Coyle, who directed the knee-high puck into the open net. BU had pulled goalie Kieran Millan in favor of an extra attacker.
“There was a lot of traffic in front, especially with six guys out there,” said Warsofsky. “I was just trying to get it through. It bounced off a bunch of shin pads and we got lucky.”
“It hit a bunch of guys and went in the opposite direction. I was on the opposite side and (Coyle) was there waiting for it,” said Sullivan. “What are you going to do on something like that?”
Maine outshot BU 36-30 and had 34 Grade-A (high-percentage) scoring attempts to BU’s 25.
Millan made 17 Grade-A saves among his 34 while Sullivan had 10 among his 28.
“It was a great college hockey game,” said Parker. “It was exciting and fast-paced and there was great goaltending. Millan was our No. 1 star. I was really impressed with Maine’s defense corps. They played extremely well. They did a great job in front of their net and they were really good with the puck.
“The surprise of the game was we held the nation’s best power play 0-for-6,” added Parker, whose Terriers killed off a pair of 5-on-3s that spanned 57 and 54 seconds, respectively. He noted O’Neill is one of the keys to Maine’s power play.
“We had to change things up without Tanner and Will but that’s not an excuse. We should have been able to score at least one goal on a 5-on-3,” said Nyquist.
Connolly opened the scoring when he roofed a one-timer from the low slot off Alex Chiasson’s diagonal feed.
Nyquist tied it when he flipped a Dimmen rebound over the helpless Millan from just outside the crease. Dimmen broke the tie when he regained the puck after having a shot blocked, stickhandled cleverly into a good shooting position and beat the screened Millan from the middle of the slot.
“There was a lot of traffic and the puck had eyes,” said Dimmen.