ORONO- The Terriers (14-16-4, 12-9-3 HEA) were blanked by the Maine Black Bears (15-15-4, 11-9-4 HEA) in Orono, 6-0, in the final game of the regular season.
It was a matchup of two of the hottest teams in Hockey East. BU entered the contest on a five-game point streak (4-0-1), tying their season-long, while Maine had gone 4-1-1 over their last six. That hot streak – along with a Boston College loss to Providence – clinched the sixth seed for the Black Bears. And because UMass Lowell tied Vermont on Friday, the Terriers would have climbed up to the fourth seed with a win.
Maine struck quickly with Brendan Robbins’ eighth goal of the season just 1:44 into the game. Robbins was sprung free by a rink-length pass from Brady Keeper, and Robbins beat Jake Oettinger to the top left corner from the right faceoff dot.
The Terriers were gifted a power play 43 seconds later, but they couldn’t convert on any of their five shot attempts while they were up a skater, finishing 0-4 on power play with eight shots.
Chase Pearson scored his team-leading 16th goal to give Maine a 2-0 lead with 12:41 remaining in the opening frame. The puck deflected off David Farrance’s stick and over Oettinger’s left leg. Just 7:19 into the game, it already felt over.”
“We had some chances in the first,” head coach Albie O’Connell said postgame, “but give Maine credit. They came out hot, and they scored goal on kind of a weird angle, that first one. The second was a hard forecheck. … They got a lot of life off that. And we just weren’t around the net enough.”
Maine found the back of the net twice more in each of the next two periods, taking advantage of BU’s slow, disjointed play. Four of the Black Bears’ six goals were scored off of breakaways, and it was the fourth goal that forced O’Connell to pull Oettinger (8 saves, .667 save %) from the game. The Dallas Stars draft pick was replaced by freshman Vinnie Purpura, who saved 12 of 14 shots in the game’s final 31:22.
“That’s just hockey,” O’Connell said. “At times, Jake’s played terrific for us, and with the playoffs coming up, we’ve got full confidence that we can rebound. You know, Maine got stung the game before, so they came out with a high degree of urgency. And we did too, but we got down 2-0, and you can’t chase the game.”
The loss doesn’t bode well for the Terriers, who seemingly had everything to play for against Maine. But it might be better that BU will play the Riverhawks in Lowell. On the season, UMass Lowell is 11-5-2 at home, but a pedestrian 7-6-3 at home. The Terriers and Riverhawks split a home-and-home series Dec. 7 and 8, with the road team winning both games.
None of that will matter, though, if BU plays the same uninspired, lackadaisical game that they did against Maine. The team is whole again now that Bobo Carpenter is back in the lineup, but it’s going to take a great effort to bounce back from a loss like this.
“Give Maine credit,” O’Connell said. “They didn’t do anything fancy. They just outworked us. They got the puck in behind us, and they beat us on foot races. … You’ve got to tip your cap to them. They played well.”