BOSTON — The University of Maine’s scoring woes and power-play problems reared their ugly heads again Saturday night.
Despite an impressive performance going toe-to-toe on the road against the No. 7 team in the country, the Black Bears were shut out for the fifth time as junior defenseman Garrett Noonan’s first-period power-play goal gave the Terriers a 1-0 victory.
Noonan scored 7:13 into the first period and freshman goalie Sean Maguire made 28 saves as BU improved to 10-5 overall and 8-4 in Hockey East. BU has won four of its last five.
Maine fell to 2-11-2 and 1-7-2. Maine is now 2-7-2 in games decided by one goal or less.
Maine entered the game ranked 58th among 59 teams in goals per game (1.43) and 57th in power-play percentage (7.5 percent).
The Bears had a five-minute power play over the game’s final 5:32 and pulled goalie Martin Ouellette in the waning stages but they couldn’t equalize.
Maguire made one terrific save during the Maine power play as he closed his pads on Mark Anthoine’s tip-in off a Billy Norman wrister from the point.
“It’s like someone has it out for us,” said Anthoine. “That was one where I got a tip on it and I felt something good was going to happen.”
Anthoine said they had other instances where people were set up in front of the net “but the puck bounced over our sticks.”
Maguire had also made a good save earlier on Joey Diamond’s slap shot from the high slot.
Ouellette finished with 20 saves, including one great glove stop on Cason Hohmann’s penalty shot with 4:52 left in the second period.
Maine was without sophomore defenseman Jake Rutt (flu) and senior defenseman Mike Cornell got hurt (upper body) in the first period and missed the rest of the game.
The Black Bears got off to an ominous start as the Terriers won the opening faceoff and spent the next 3:30 in the Maine zone, cycling the puck effectively and tenaciously keeping the puck away from the Black Bears.
Ouellette came up with a couple of saves during the siege but his mates did a respectable job limiting the Terriers’ high-percentage chances despite their failures to clear the puck.
BU had successive power plays later in the period and capitalized on the second one when Danny O’Regan made a precise diagonal pass to Noonan in the left circle and Noonan one-timed it past Ouellette into the short-side corner.
“We’ve been working on that in practice. O’Regan made a great pass,” said Noonan, whose 16 goals last season tied him for the top spot among college defensemen.
“It was a good shot but I could have stopped it,” said Ouellette.
The Black Bears got better as the period moved along and did a credible job clogging up the neutral zone against the speedy and highly-skilled Terriers. They were also able to generate some rush chances off transition chances.
The shots were 8-8 in the first period with Ouellete making five Grade-A saves to Maguire’s two.
Diamond had a good chance to open the second period as he skated down the middle of the slot, used a BU defenseman as a screen and snapped a 25-foot wrister that Maguire saved by squeezing his pads.
Ouellette made a nifty reaction stop a few minutes later when Hohmann redirected an Alexx Privitera slap pass on goal. Ouellette shifted his pad to kick out the attempt.
“It was frustrating,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “I liked the fight and competitiveness we showed. There were a lot of positives. But we’re not looking for moral victories. “
Whitehead said the team’s power play was hurt by the fact “the guys didn’t get their shots off quicker. They’ve got to shoot it even if there isn’t a screen in front. And we had the weak side open but we didn’t get the pass across.”
Noonan said they he wasn’t surprised the last-place Black Bears gave them a battle.
“We watched them on film and they work so hard. We always have trouble with them. After that first shift, we thought it might be pretty easy. But they had us back on our heels the last two periods. They frustrated us,” said Noonan who added that Maguire “bailed us out” at different times including Maine’s last power play.