CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — It defied logic.
The University of Maine men’s hockey team hadn’t won at Boston College’s Conte Forum since Oct. 28, 2005.
But the last-place Black Bears shocked the nation’s third-ranked team Friday night 4-1 behind junior goalie Martin Ouellete’s 34 saves and a thorough defensive effort.
Maine, 0-8-1 in its previous nine games at Conte Forum, improved to 6-14-4 overall, 2-9-4 in Hockey East. It was Maine’s first Hockey East win since a 4-3 victory at UMass Lowell on Nov. 10. Maine had gone 0-4-4 in its previous eight Hockey East games.
Maine snapped a five-game winless streak while scoring more than two goals in a game for just the fourth time this season..
First-place BC fell to 14-6-2 in losing for the second straight time at Conte Forum after going 8-0-1 in its previous nine. BC is 11-5-1 in Hockey East
First-period goals by senior right wing Joey Diamond and freshman left wing Ryan Lomberg and a second-period goal by freshman left wing Will Merchant supplied Maine with its first three-goal lead of the season entering the third period.
Steven Whitney’s one-timer from the top of the right circle on the power play with 6:54 left closed the gap to 3-1, but Maine killed off another power play and Kyle Beattie added an empty-net goal.
“I kept it simple,” said Ouellette, who made 18 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves among his 34.
“I saw the puck well and when I didn’t, the guys blocked shots for me. They made it easier for me than it should have been. All I had to do was make the first save and they’d clear the rebounds.”
“Ouellette had a strong game,” said BC coach Jerry York, who was returning for the first time after missing four games due to eye surgery. “Maine played well. They competed very hard. They deserved to win.”
Diamond opened the scoring 3:11 into the game with his eighth career goal in 13 games against the Eagles. Diamond picked off an errant Eagle pass behind the net, circled the cage and beat goalie Parker Milner to the short side with a rising wrister past his glove from a difficult angle along the extended goal line.
York said a Maine player had yelled for the puck and his player thought he was passing it to a teammate instead of to Diamond.
“It was a pretty good play by them,” said York.
Diamond said “I faked a pass and [Milner] slid across [to the far post]. So I put it short side.”
BC had its best chance of the period with two minutes left when Johnny Gaudreau, busting down the middle of the slot, deflected Pat Mullane’s pass off the post to the left of Ouellette.
Just 1:40 later, Lomberg extended the lead.
The Black Bears cycled the puck in the BC zone and Devin Shore fed Billy Norman at the midpoint.
Norman’s low wrister was kicked out by Milner, but the rebound spilled to the goalie’s left and Lomberg nudged it over the goal line.
“I put it to my backhand and pulled it around him,” said Lomberg.
Maine outshot BC 13-6 in the first period.
BC played with a greater sense of urgency in the second frame, unleashing a 20-shot barrage thanks to three consecutive power plays.
But Ouellette was tremendous, making 12 Grade-A saves, including pad stops off Gaudreau’s breakaway, Mullane’s one-timer off a Gaudreau feed and Michael Sit’s tip-in attempt off a Patrick Wey point shot.
Danny Linell hit the crossbar in the second period for the Eagles.
“Killing those penalties in the second period was a turning point,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
Merchant scored his second career goal, both coming at the expense of BC, when he drove to the front of the net and flipped a loose puck past Milner from 10 feet out after Jon and Steven Swavely created a turnover behind the net with some tenacious forechecking.
“Jon put it on the goalie’s pad and it came to me and the five-hole was wide open,” said Merchant.
“That goal was important. It gave us momentum going into the third period,” said Diamond. “It gave us confidence that we could score goals.”
Maine was tenacious on the puck all night long, reducing the nation’s fourth-highest scoring (3.62 goals per game) team’s time and space with the puck.
“We emphasized getting a second man on the puck and winning the scrums,” said Merchant. “We were also physical and we played a full 60 minutes.”
Lomberg said Ouellette was “unbelievable.
“We have so much confidence in him. He gives us a chance to win every night,” said Lomberg.
York said his Eagles had chances to cut the lead to 3-2 but they couldn’t capitalize.
“Maine played tough defensively,” he said.
The dynamic Gaudreau, who entered the game leading the nation in points per game (1.72) was held without a point for just the third time in 19 games.
BC outshot Maine 35-31.