BOSTON — His first two seasons were frustrating.
University of Maine defenseman Nick Pryor was plagued by injuries including a hip injury that required surgery, and a concussion. He also had to contend with a veteran defense corps, limiting him to 11 games.
But Pryor’s first collegiate goal was a game-winner, sophomore goalie Dan Sullivan made 38 saves and the Black Bears completed an improbable sweep of the nation’s second-ranked team, the Boston University Terriers, 3-1 on Saturday night at Agganis Arena.
Pryor’s slap shot six minutes into the second period broke a 1-1 tie and Matt Mangene added an empty-net power-play goal with five seconds left to extend Maine’s streak of scoring at least one power-play goal to 17 games.
Garrett Noonan equalized on the power play for BU in the second period but Pryor regained the lead for Maine 3:19 later directly off a faceoff win by Joey Diamond.
“It was kind of a rolling puck and I stepped into it and gave it everything I had,” said Pryor whose slap shot sailed over BU goalie Kieran Millan’s glove. “It was good to get the monkey off my back and it’s even better because it came in a victory. The most important thing is we got the win and that’s what counts.
“Having my first goal being a game-winner at BU…I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better.” added Pryor who praised Sullivan for his performance.
“It was crazy. You could tell he was in a zone. He was so confident,” said Pryor.
“He was amazing. He made unbelievable saves all night,” added junior right wing Mangene.
Sullivan, who made 14 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves among his 38,was pleased with his performance but said he got plenty of help.
“All the guys worked extremely hard in front of me and it paid off,” said Sullivan. “The forwards were back-checking to the slot and that’s where the majority of goals are scored.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead called it a “great weekend.
“It didn’t come easy. We just kept fighting and finding ways to get the puck out of our zone and into their zone,” said Whitehead. “Tonight was even better than last night (4-2 win) because things didn’t come easy on the power play (1-for-8). So we had to find a different way to win.”
Maine improved to 14-8-3 overall, 11-7-2 in Hockey East.
Maine is now 11-2-2 in its last 15 games and 8-1-1 in its last 10 games including a sweep of Boston College and Boston University on consecutive weekends.
BU fell to 15-8-1 and 12-6-1.
It was the first time Maine has won a season series from BU since the 2003-2004 season.
The sweep catapulted Maine to a tie for 11th with Notre Dame in the Pairwise Rankings that emulate the NCAA Tournamant Selection process.
Maine freshman right wing John Parker’s third goal in his last five games represented the only scoring in the first period.
BU attempted 74 shots but the Bears blocked 20 of them and two of Maine’s top offensive threats, Spencer Abbott and Adam Shemansky, hustled back to the crease area to make critical clears in the third period with the puck resting in front of an empty net as BU pressed for an equalizer.
“We need them to score for us but we also need them to play team defense and that’s what they did tonight,” said Mangene. “That’s how we’ve kept on winning.”
BU coach Jack Parker said he was “extremely happy” with the way his team played and said both goalies “played great. They deserved to be named the game’s top two stars (Sullivan was chosen the first star by the media and Millan was the second star).
“Maine played hard in front of Sullivan. They blocked a lot of shots,” said Parker. “We attempted 74 shots and scored just one goal,” said Parker, who received a game misconduct toward the end of the game for yelling at the officials.
John Parker gave Maine a well-deserved lead with 6.7 seconds left in a first period completely dominated by the Black Bears, who outshot BU 21-8 thanks to four power-play opportunities compared to BU’s one.
Millan kept the Terriers in the game with 15 of his 21 Grade-A saves on the evening. He finished with 34 stops.
Sullivan had just two Grade-A stops in the first period.
BU turned the tables on Maine in the second period with a dominance fueled by three power-play opportunities. BU outshot Maine 19-6.
Noonan drew the Terriers level when he skated unattended to the top of the crease and tipped Adam Clendening ‘s wrister from the point behind Sullivan.
Parker’s game-opening goal resulted from a wild flurry in front of Millan.
Mark Nemec took a shot and Jon Swavely got a piece of the rebound before the puck squirted out to the right circle and Parker one-timed a rising snap shot through a host of players and over the glove of Millan.