BOSTON — The University of Maine men’s hockey team had been 0-7-2 in nine regular season games at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. They did win one Hockey East quarterfinal game but lost the three-game series.
The Black Bears finally broke through, receiving a power-play goal from Mark Anthoine with 9:52 remaining to break a 2-2 tie before Spencer Abbott added an empty-net goal as the Black Bears triumphed 4-2 Friday night.
Maine, ranked 20th in the country in the USCHO poll, is now 13-8-3 overall, 10-7-2 in Hockey East. Maine is 3-0-1 in its last four games and 7-1-1 in its last nine.
BU, ranked second in the country, fell to 15-7-1 and 12-5-1. BU had its five-game winning streak snapped. The two teams meet again Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“This was a huge win for us in the Pairwise (Rankings), in Hockey East and for our confidence,” said Anthoine, who was moved up from the second power-play unit to the first unit because Joey Diamond sat out the third period with a hip injury.
The Pairwise rankings mimic the NCAA Tournament selection process and BU was No. 1 in the Pairwise while Maine was 18th.
Anthoine scored his eighth power-play goal of the season when he was parked in front of BU goalie Kieran Millan and tipped Abbott’s shot from the top of the left circle behind Millan.
“It hit the blade of my stick and went up,” explained Anthoine, whose deflection went into the short-side corner over Millan’s blocker.
Abbott had taken a pass from Brian Flynn and faked a slap shot as a BU penalty-killer came out at him to try to block his shot.
“If I had taken a slap shot, he would have blocked it,” said Abbott. “So I faked it and pulled it around him (before taking a wrist shot). Anthoine did the rest.”
Maine aggressively pursued an insurance goal and limited BU’s scoring opportunities until Abbott iced it when he blocked a shot and chased down the puck before carrying it into the BU zone and snapping it into the vacated net.
Adam Shemansky’s second-period power play goal and John Parker’s even-strength score 3:07 later gave the Black Bears a 2-1 lead after Alex Chiasson’s first-period power play goal staked BU to a 1-0 lead.
After Parker’s goal, the lights went out on one side of the rink and the teams were eventually sent to the locker room with 11:38 remaining in the period.
Following the 20-minute delay, the Terriers carried the play for the rest of the period and Ross Gaudet tied it with 7:22 remaining.
BU had some excellent chances to take the lead but Sullivan came up with some vital stops to keep the game tied.
With a couple of minutes remaining in the period, Cason Hohmann maneuvered his way to the middle of the slot only to have Sullivan get his glove on his 15-foot wrist shot. The rebound eventually spilled behind the net and Sullivan was bowled over when Maine’s Mike Cornell got tangled up with BU’s Garrett Noonan.
Hohmann tried to stuff the puck behind Sullivan but the goalie reached back with Noonan on top of him and got his arm on the shot.
“I couldn’t move but I saw him out of the corner of my eye and just reached my arm out,” said Sullivan.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said Sullivan “came up with some big saves to keep it 2-2 and then the Zamboni came out (at the end of the period) and it helped us (like the power outage aided BU).”
He encouraged his team between the second and third periods to recapture the momentum in the third period and they did.
BU junior left wing Gaudet said Maine earned the win.
“They played harder than we did. We didn’t win enough battles,” said Gaudet.
“They did a good job clogging up center ice,” said Parker. “We came out in the third period and played like we were leading 5-2. We were in a hurry, we overskated the puck. A lot of guys didn’t play up to their potential. There wasn’t much bumping.
“We got only one power play but that wasn’t the referees’ fault. We didn’t work hard enough to draw any penalties,” said Parker.
Shemansky’s goal, extending Maine’s streak to 16 games with at least one power-play goal, came off a turnover by BU’s Max Nicastro. Anthoine pushed the puck ahead to the unattended Shemansky, who wheeled around and fired a wrister between the pads of Millan, who appeared to be caught by surprise.
Sullivan prevented Maine from falling behind when he made a terrific glove save off Adam Clendening on a shorthanded breakaway after he stole an ill-advised pass by Will O’Neill.
“He took a good hard shot but I was able to get my glove on it,” said Sullivan. “I was fortunate.”
BU coach Jack Parker thought Sullivan played well.
“He came up with four or five big saves,” said Parker.
Moments later, Maine’s Parker took a pass from Mark Nemec at center ice, put on a burst of speed to go wide on a BU defenseman and roofed a backhander into the short-side corner over Millan’s blocker.
Following the delay, Gaudet tied it as he pounced on a Ryan Santana rebound and banked the puck home off Sullivan’s leg from a difficult angle.
Chiasson’s power-play goal came with 2:04 left in the first period as he finished off a pretty passing sequence involving Chris Connolly and Wade Megan.
Connolly slid the puck out of the corner to Megan along the right wing boards and Megan fed it across to Chiasson, who was positioned between the faceoff circles and one-timed it over the blocker of Sullivan.
BU outshot Maine 30-25.
Sullivan finished with 14 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves among his 28 while Millan had six among his 21.
Anthoine and Abbott each had a goal and an assist.