ORONO — The University of Maine men’s hockey team made a statement on Sunday night.
The Black Bears turned in one of their best performances of the season to upset the nation’s third-ranked Boston College Eagles 4-1.
Sophomore goalie Shawn Sirman, getting his first start since Dec. 3, made 25 saves to help Maine end an eight-game winless streak at the hands of the Eagles (0-7-1).
Maine improved to 11-6-4 overall and 8-4-2 in Hockey East. Maine is now 8-1-1 at Alfond Arena.
BC had its seven-game winning streak snapped and the Eagles are now 15-6 overall, 11-5 in league play.
Late first-period goals 3:42 apart by Joey Diamond and Tanner House staked Maine to a 2-0 lead and early second-period goals 4:14 apart by Brian Flynn and Jeff Dimmen expanded it to 4-0.
Cam Atkinson scored 5:36 into the third period for the Eagles, who had averaged 5.3 goals per game during their seven-game winning streak.
Sirman finished with 10 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves.
He was helped immeasurably by his teammates, who played with passion and purpose throughout the game.
Maine limited the time and space the speedy and talented Eagles had with the puck. They hounded them and made smart decisions with the puck. Maine won loose pucks in all three zones and was able to sustain its forecheck with its grit.
The Bears also held BC scoreless in four power-play attempts.
“It’s exciting,” said Sirman. “This is a big win. They’re a real good hockey team.”
He added that he kept himself prepared by working hard in practice and wasn’t nervous before the game.
“Shawn was unbelievable. He stood on his head,” said assistant captain Dimmen.
One of his saves came off a penalty shot with 3:49 remaining in the middle period when Matt Mangene was ruled to have covered the puck with his hand in the goal crease during a wild scramble.
Pat Mullane took the penalty shot, transferring the puck from his forehand to backhand but Sirman saved the backhander to preserve the 4-0
“It hit me in the glove,” said Sirman.
“If (Mullane) had capitalized, it could have given us a big boost,” said BC senior left wing and captain Joe Whitney. “(Sirman) played well. He made the saves he needed to make.”
“We worked hard and played well for the whole 60 minutes,” said Maine junior right wing Gustav Nyquist, who had two assists and combined with linemates Flynn and House to turn in a dominant performance. They teamed up for two goals and four assists.
”Maine beat us in every facet of the game,” said BC coach Jerry York, who has guided his Eagles to two NCAA titles the past three years. “Defensive zone, neutral zone, offensive zone. They deserved to win the game. We were fortunate it was only 4-1.”
Diamond opened the scoring on the power play by finishing off a well-crafted passing sequence.
Dimmen had the puck in the offensive zone and pushed it ahead to Flynn, who skated down the low slot before sliding the puck over to Diamond at the top of the crease and Diamond directed it home to snap a six-game goalless drought.
“I think everyone (on the power play unit) touched the puck,” said Diamond. “I just tapped it in.”
Diamond was the distributor on the House goal as the Bears were able to sustain a forecheck. Mike Cornell dumped the puck behind the net and Diamond collected it and snapped a pass to the middle of the slot where House one-timed it between BC goalie John Muse’s right skate and the post with 51 seconds left in the period.
“That’s Tanner’s sweet spot. That’s where he scores his goals,” said Diamond.
House had gone 12 games without a goal.
Flynn scored just 33 seconds into the third period off a Nyquist pass.
Nyquist dashed into the BC zone and dropped a pass for the trailing Flynn.
“It was a two-on-two,” said Flynn. “I cut to the middle, used a defenseman as a screen and shot it through the defenseman’s legs.”
Flynn’s rising wrister beat Muse to the short side past his blocker.
Dimmen made it 4-0 when Nyquist fed the puck to House and House moved it to Dimmen at the right point.
Dimmen’s one-timer sailed through a posse of players past the screened Muse, who was pulled after the goal in favor of Parker Milner.
“I think House and Flynn were screening in front,” said Dimmen.
“Maine did a good job getting traffic in front,” said Muse.
“We were able to get the puck deep (into the offensive zone) and get in on them. I think we wore them down,” said Dimmen.
Atkinson scored with a short backhander on a delayed penalty and, under the new rules, the Eagles still received a power play.
But Maine impressively killed it off and killed off another later in the period.
Dimmen had two assists to go with his goal while Diamond, Flynn and House had an assist to go with their goals.
BC outshot Maine 26-24.
“They have a lot of talented players. I don’t think we saw their best earlier,” said Whitney referring to BC’s 4-0 and 4-1 wins in November.