Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By RACHEL LENZI
Portland Press Herald
BOSTON — The opponent didn’t intimidate them.
The big-time surroundings didn’t overwhelm them.
Instead, the University of Maine hockey team showed up, drank in the atmosphere before the game, then held on to defeat its opponent in 60 minutes of regulation.
The No. 19 Black Bears scored a pair of first-period goals and rebounded from a late tally on goalie Dave Wilson to defeat No. 20 Boston University 5-2 in a Hockey East semifinal at TD Garden.
The Black Bears earned a spot in the Hockey East championship game — their first since 2004 — and all but ended Boston University’s reign as defending national champions.
Maine (19-16-3) will face No. 4 Boston College at 7 tonight in the Hockey East championship game at TD Garden.
The winner of tonight’s game will receive an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, and the 16-team field will be announced Sunday morning.
Tonight’s game will be the 13th time Maine will play in the Hockey East final.
The Black Bears last played in the title game in 2004, when they beat Massachusetts 2-1 in three overtimes.
Maine outshot BU 7-3 early in the game, but the Black Bears were unable to capitalize on four minutes of power-play time after Andrew Glass was penalized for high-sticking at 9 minutes, 18 seconds of the first and goalie Kieran Millan for tripping at 11:18.
A minute after the second penalty expired, Joey Diamond came down off the left wing and forced Millan to come out of the goal crease. Millan reached to poke at the puck, but Diamond scooted past him and backhanded the puck into an open net to give Maine a 1-0 lead over the Terriers (18-17-3).
With 1:14 left in the first, Brian Flynn’s shot from the point went through traffic and beat Millan for a 2-0 lead.
Maine killed off a 5-on-3 early in the second — in which center David deKastrozza played without a stick after it was broken on a faceoff — after Tanner House (interference) and Kevin Swallow (holding) took overlapping penalties.
Less than four minutes after the penalty to Swallow expired, Robby Dee gave Maine a 3-0 lead when he beat Millan on a 1-on-1 on a wrist shot, and with five minutes left, BU left wing Chris Connolly’s redirection hit the post to Wilson’s right.
Officials waved off an apparent goal by Gustav Nyquist with 9:17 left in the second, when it was ruled that the sophomore right wing redirected the puck into the net with his stick above shoulder-level.
Kevin Shattenkirk ended Maine’s shutout bid less than two minutes into the third, and BU’s Vinny Saponari was awarded a goal with 3:47 left after a lengthy review. Wilson stopped Ross Gaudet on a breakaway with 2:52 left, and goals by de Kastrozza and House cushioned Maine’s lead in the final 2:04.
Boston College 3, Vermont 0: Chris Kreider scored with 4:11 left in the first to help the Eagles (24-10-3) defeat the Catamounts (17-14-7) in the first Hockey East semifinal in Boston.
Ben Smith and Jimmy Hayes also scored for the Eagles, who led 2-0 going into the third period, and Kreider and Hayes each had a goal and an assist.