The Boston College student section at the Conte Forum chanted behind University of Maine goaltender Dan Sullivan, “Its all your fault! Its all your fault!” On a night where nothing seemed to go right for the Black Bears, the BC Superfan’s chorus wasn’t far from the truth.
Moments before with Maine on the man advantage, Sullivan casually retrieved the puck from behind the net and blindly steered it around his cage onto the stick of lurking Boston College forechecker Brian Gibbons. Sullivan scrambled to the open mouth of his goal. He dove, his arms outstretched. It was too late. Gibbons, his arms raised to the sky had collected his second point of the night on a classic goaltender’s gaffe. Two periods later Sullivan had been chased to the bench, on the wrong side of a 4-0 score. It was that kind of night for the Black Bears.
Maybe it was the four hour bus ride from Orono. Maybe it was complacency after a sweep of Northeastern the weekend before. Whatever the reasons may be, the Maine Black Bears did not look like the number three team in the country. They looked like they had stumbled out of the woods of Maine, gunk still in their eyes from hibernation.
“It wasn’t his best.” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead reflecting on his goaltender’s play. But Whitehead wasn’t about to shift the entire blame on his goaltender. “The goalie makes a mistake and everybody notices. A lot of guys make mistakes tonight and in previous games and he’s been there to cover for us all season. I felt for him tonight, he wasn’t at his best, he’ll bounce back, he’s been preparing well every week.”
It certainly didn’t help Maine’s cause that the John Muse was seeing the puck with a NHL goaltender’s cool calm demeanor, and the rest of the Boston College Eagles seemed to capitalize on every chance they were given.
BC opened the scoring with just over five minutes remaining in the first, as Brian Gibbons centered a puck from the face off circle to Paul Carey who despite a jousting Maine defenseman, slid his shot to the side of a butterflying Sullivan.
It could have been a very different first period as just minutes earlier Maine’s Gustav Nyquist was dragged down on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. But Muse was there as he was all night, making one of his 32 saves. Patently waiting for Nyquist to make his move, Muse followed the Detroit Red Wings draft pick all the way to the goal line getting his pad down on a deke that would have fooled many a Hockey East goaltender.
“I think if he scores there, that gives us a big boost since it was still 0-0 at that time.” said Whitehead commenting on Nyquist’s penalty shot.
Midway through the second period, Tommy Atkinson rounded up his own rebound off a blocked shot and snuck it past a handcuffed Sullivan who watched the puck trickle out from between his arms and crawl across the line.
Pat Mullane put the exclamation point on the win and rounded out the Eagles scoring, being fed from down low by Brian Dimoulin and ripping a shot over the glove of a screened Sullivan.
“We play fast and strong like we did tonight and it’s hard to beat us” explained Muse. “Sundays a new game. Obviously we want to come out with the same intensity and play the same way we did tonight.”
The Black Bears have a day to reflect and pick up the pieces from Friday night as they don’t play again until their matinee with BC on Sunday afternoon.
“I don’t think it takes too much to look at the sheet, and realize were 0-for-7 and 2-for-4 plus the shorthanded goal, and that was the difference,” Whitehead said explaining his teams donut on seven power plays, and two goals allowed on on his Black Bears penalty killing situations.
BC looks to distance themselves further from the Black Bears in the Hockey East standings, as Maine will try to salvage their trip to Boston, and not make it a weekend to forget.