Listening to a man that has coached at the same school for 36 years is probably a good idea. Jack Parker has seen a lot in his career at Boston University, amassing 2 NCAA Championships and 10 ECAC or Hockey East Titles.
"In reality...they should probably be going home and getting ready for the (TD Banknorth) Garden, because we stole one (Friday) night and now they come back and beat us 6 - 3.", said Parker.
Parker knows best.
The 1st period was a topsy turvy, action filled period that any hockey fan would love. Maine got things going early as Senior Chris Haun netted a pretty pass from Gustav Nyquist 42 seconds into the game to go up 1 - 0. BU came back a little over 2 minutes later to tie the game at 1, when BU's Branden Yip came down the side, got a nice pass from Colin Wilson and blasted one past Maine freshman goaltender Scott Darling for his 17th goal of the season. Maine then had 2 terrible giveaways over the next 6 minutes, both leading to goals. The first was a 4 on 4 tilt, set up by BU Captain John McCarthy and Maine Senior Co-Captain Simon Danis-Pepin off for roughing, when Maine Sophomore Defenseman Josh Van Dyk tried a cross ice pass in traffic. BU's Matt Gilroy grabbed the puck, slid a nice open lane pass to Bu's Luke Popko who beat Darling through the 3 hole. Popko's goal put BU up 2 -1 on the Black Bears.
More chippiness ensued that led to a Maine power play, as Tanner House laid a big hit on a BU defenseman and BU's Chris Connolly got whistled for a retaliatory hooking call at 10:24 of the 1st. Maine Sophomore Defenseman Jeff Dimmen tried skating the puck out of the right side Maine offensive zone, over skated it, tried a quick pass that was intercepted by Jason Lawrence who sent McCarthy for an easy breakaway goal on Darling,for BU's 9th shorthanded goal of the season. BU's shorthanded goal put them up 3 -1.
What could have been a back-breaker, wasn't. Maine Coach Tim Whitehead felt confident his team would keep their composure being down 2.
"I thought they continued to play...we felt really good on the bench...I could see they felt confident...they were just playing the game and not too worried about it," said Whitehead.
That attitude brought results on the ice. With Connolly still off for hooking, Windham's Matt Duffy had a blue line blast that BU Goaltender Kieran Millan stopped easily, but Maine's Tanner House was able to control the puck in a scrum, slipped it Nyquist, who went top shelf, glove side on Millan to close the deficit to 3 -2. Maine kept the pressure on quickly with a score less then 30 seconds later. Danis-Pepin threw a nice outlet pass to Kevin Swallow who put it right on the stick of Keif Orsini. Orsini blasted a quick wrister that Millan got a piece of, but not enough as the puck trickled to his left post. Maine quickly erupted, the ref, who was positioned perfectly, called it a goal as BU and Maine players crashed into the net in a pile. After video review the goal stood, Maine evened the game at 3. All in all in the 1st period, 6 goals, 25 Shots on Goal and 20 penalty minutes. Following the roller coaster ride of the 1st, calmer heads and defenses prevailed.
Maine's defense clamped down like it hadn't before this season. The defense allowed goalie Scott Darling clear sailing the rest way by continuing to clear rebounds.
Coach Whitehead said, "At Lowell, we didn't do a good job at protecting Scott (Darling), we had some (2nd chances by BU), but not nearly as many. I thought our defense was much more aware on the weak side and helping (Scott) out." Maine only allowed 18 shots the rest of the game, only 4 of those being quality shots.
Maine got the lead for good as Danis-Pepin fed Spencer Abbot, who blasted a shot past Millan for the 4 - 3 lead. Good teams make runs, but this time Maine seemed to have the answer. With less than a minute left in the 2nd, BU got their offense rolling and moved the puck to the net. BU's McCarthy had an open net with 10 seconds left, but Darling slammed the door shut.
Said Nyquist,"It gave us a big boost, we came after them in the 3rd period."
That they did. Maine handled everything BU dished out, netting 2 more power play goals, the 1st 6:16 into the 3rd. Nyquist got another pretty top shelf job and Robbie D finished off the scoring for the game at 11:04 of the 3rd to put Maine up 6 - 3.
Game 3 of the Best of 3 Series is tonight, 7PM at Agganis Arena in Boston.
Coach Whitehead knows what lies ahead for this team " We know what we are up against (Sunday), It's going to be a tough challenge"
Maine is 5 - 10 on the Power Play this series....Maine hadn't scored 6 goals since December of 96....Boston University Goaltender Kieran Millan hasn't allowed 3 goals in a period in his career.