ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine Black Bears turned in a gritty, hard-working performance on Friday night, but Boston University’s speed and skill were simply too much for them as the Terriers earned an impressive 5-2 Hockey East victory at Alfond Arena.
The teams will play again at 7 p.m. Saturday at Agganis Arena in Boston.
The 11th-ranked Terriers improved to 12-7-4 overall and 6-4-3 in Hockey East while Maine fell to 5-14-6 and 2-7-2.
BU senior goalie Sean Maguire made 32 saves, and his teammates turned in a solid defensive effort in front of him. BU also had a decided advantage in offensive zone possession throughout the game.
Fourteen of his saves were of the Grade-A variety.
Maine goalie Matt Morris finished with 29 stops including eight Grade-A’s.
Senior right wing Ahti Oksanen had a pair of goals and two assists and linemates Jordan Greenway and Matt Lane combined for four assists with Greenway picking up three of them.
“It was a very physical game. Both teams played hard. We didn’t have an answer for that [Lane] line and that was the difference in the game,” said Maine coach Red Gendron who added that BU was more successful sustaining its forecheck than his team.
“This was one of our better performances,” said BU coach David Quinn. “We did a great job pressuring the puck. We were a difficult team to play against tonight. This is not an easy place to play. Maine is well-coached and it’s no fun to play them. But I loved the way our guys stuck with it.”
He added that Maguire played a “great game” and all four lines played well especially the Lane line with the shifty Lane between the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Greenway and the 6-3, 215-pound Oksanen.
Senior center Mike Moran’s first goal of the season and 11th of his 125-game career answered a goal by Maine’s Cam Brown to give the Terriers a 3-1 lead after two periods, and freshman Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson gave the Terriers some breathing room by scoring just 51 seconds into the third period.
Blaine Byron’s power-play goal off a Will Merchant rebound gave the Black Bears a lifeline with 2:59 left but Oksanen notched his second goal of the game 24 seconds later with a power move out of the corner and a six-foot wrister after he avoided a pokecheck by Morris.
Matt Grzelcyk staked BU to a 1-0 lead with the only goal of the first period, and Oksanen extended the lead 4:18 into the second period before Brown scored Maine’s first power-play goal in seven games just 2:07 later.
But just moments after Maguire made a nice point-blank save off Dane Gibson, Moran expanded the lead.
Oksanen passed the puck out of the left corner to Greenway in the low slot, but the puck glanced off Greenway’s skate. However, Greenway used his long reach to retrieve the puck, spin around and flip the puck across the slot to Moran.
The puck deflected slightly off Moran’s skate but Moran, who was skating toward Greenway, alertly found the puck and deposited it into the exposed net before Morris could scramble across.
Grzelcyk opened the scoring at the 14:19 mark of the first period courtesy of a strong forecheck involving the line of Forsbacka Karlsson, Danny O’Regan and Ryan Cloonan.
Cloonan cycled the puck out of the corner to Morris’ right and got it to O’Regan. O’Regan skated from right to left in the high slot and left a drop pass for Grzelcyk at the left point.
Grzelcyk’s wrister sailed between Forsbacka Karlsson and Maine’s Conor Riley, who were tangled up in front, and found the far corner.
Oksanen made it 2-0, but Maine’s Brown snapped an 0-for-22 power play drought with a clever move after Will Merchant’s cross-ice pass to Steven Swavely in the high slot. Swavely’s one-touch pass went between the legs of Blaine Byron to the unattended Brown and he broke in alone on Maguire before slicing from left to right across the top of the crease and tucking a backhander between Magure’s left skate and the post.
Maine’s Dane Gibson had a quality chance to tie it up when Swavely found him alone at the top of the crease with a pass out from the corner to Maguire’s left.
Gibson quickly pulled the puck to his left but Maguire moved over with him and got his right pad on the shot.
Moran then scored his important goal to restore the two-goal lead.
Forsbacka-Karlsson’s goal came 11 seconds after Maine had killed off a penalty.
Sophomore defenseman Brandon Fortunato, one of four Terriers to play in the recently concluded World Junior Championships in Finland, skated down the slot and threw the puck toward the net.
The puck pinballed over to Forsbacka Karlsson and he jammed it past Morris.
Gendron said his team was guilty of giving BU too many “easy looks” on some of their goals and they have to do a better job taking the body on BU’s swift-skating, offensive-minded defensemen on Saturday night.
Maine went 2-for-3 on the power play which represents just the second time this season the Black Bears have scored more than one power-play goal in a game. They scored two in the 5-4 loss to New Hampshire in Portland on Dec. 29.