ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine men’s hockey team has had a penchant for surrendering goals within a minute of scoring one. It proved costly Friday night.
Sophomore right wing Cam Atkinson’s goal just eight seconds after Maine’s Joey Diamond had tied it 2-2 gave the Boston College Eagles the lead for good and they held on for a 4-3 victory over the Black Bears Friday night at Alfond Arena.
BC is now 5-3-1 overall, 4-3-1 in Hockey East. Maine fell to 4-7 and 3-4, respectively.
The teams will play again tonight at 7.
Maine had its three-game Alfond Arena winning streak snapped.
Atkinson’s goal at the 9:05 mark was set up by a Pat Mullane pass and came on a rising wrist shot from the right face-off dot.
“I just tried to shoot it as hard as I could,” said Atkinson.
“That was a weird goal,” said Maine goalie Scott Darling, who kept the Bears in the game with 26 saves through the first two periods. “I never saw it. It grazed the right side of my mask.”
“It deflected off Will O’Neill’s stick,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
It is the second time in two games that the Bears had a tying goal in the third period answered within a minute as Alex Tuckerman scored the game-winner for Northeastern last Saturday night 56 seconds after Brian Flynn had tied it.
Tuckerman’s shot was also deflected.
Maine has now given up tying or go-ahead goals within 56 seconds of scoring five times this season including four within 17 seconds.
“That goal was huge. It silenced the crowd. It was a highlight-reel goal,” said BC senior center and captain Matt Price, who extended the lead 6:25 later in a four-on-four situation.
Price and Barry Almeida came down the ice in a two-on-two and Almeida took a shot that was deflected and trickled into a crowded goal mouth.
“I saw the puck and whacked it [on the backhand]. I think it went under his pad,” said Price.
“It was in someone’s skates and just as I reached out to cover it, he whacked it,” said Darling.
Price has now scored five of his 14 career goals against Maine.
“It’s just puck luck. I try to play the same against everybody,” said Price.
BC, with seven players who were first- or second-round NHL draft choices, received a first-period goal from Mullane and a second-period goal from Jimmy Hayes, and appeared to be on their way to a convincing victory as they completely controlled play with their superior speed, skill and tenacity.
BC was able to sustain its forecheck by cycling the puck and protecting it in the offensive zone.
Maine, meanwhile, was limited to occasional rush opportunities but the Bears weren’t able to sustain much offensive zone pressure.
“We didn’t show up to play in the first two periods,” said Maine sophomore right wing Gustav Nyquist, who scored Maine’s first goal 18 seconds into the third period.
BC gained momentum in the game’s first nine minutes by killing off a pair of Maine two-man advantages lasting 37 seconds and 1:21. Maine entered the game with the nation’s fifth-best power play and the Bears- had scored at least one power play goal in every game this season and the final three of last season.
Maine went 0-for-6 on the evening while BC’s eighth-best power play went 0-for-3.
BC coach Jerry York said killing off those two-man disadvantages enabled his team to “stay alive.”
“The penalty-killers did a great job in front of me,” said BC freshman goalie Parker Milner, who made 23 saves in his second career start, including a breakaway stop off Nyquist while protecting a 2-0 lead late in the second period.
Darling finished with 31.
“We should have at least scored a goal,” said Nyquist.
“We overpassed the puck,” said Whitehead.
After being outplayed for two periods, the Black Bears stunned the Eagles with goals 2:14 apart early in the third period as Nyquist and Diamond brought the Alfond Arena faithful to its feet, but the momentum was short-lived.
Nyquist scored when he chased down a Will O’Neill rebound deep in the corner and fired a centering pass that squeezed between Milner’s right skate and the post.
Diamond tied it when he took the puck around BC defenseman Ryan Dumoulin, shielding him from the puck, and cut across the low slot before stabbing a wrister into the far corner past Milner’s blocker.
After the goals by Atkinson and Price, Diamond made things interesting as he skated onto a Swallow drop pass and snapped a low wrister in off the far post.
But Maine couldn’t come up with the equalizer.
Diamond said it was nice to finally score his first two goals but said he would trade them in for a win.
Mullane opened the scoring when his centering pass deflected into the net off a Maine stick with 49 seconds left in the first period.
Hayes made it 2-0 7:29 into the second period when he swept a pass from Steven Whitney under the stick of Darling from a difficult angle to the goalie’s right.
Maine outshot BC 11-7 in the third period after being outshot 28-15 through the first 40 minutes.
BC is now 8-1-2 in its last 11 games with Maine.