CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – The first thing University of Maine hockey coach Shawn Walsh did following Saturday night’s 0-0 overtime tie with Boston College was apologize to the media for “boring you to death.”
With his team depleted by injuries, suspensions and a pair of Friday night game disqualifications that sidelined senior tri-captains Shawn Wansborough and Brian White, Walsh employed a passive 0-5 forecheck and a neutral zone trap to stymie the Eagles, who had beaten the nation’s No. 1-ranked Boston University Terriers 4-2 Friday.
Maine is now 6-5-2 in Hockey East and is tied for first with BC (6-4-2), BU (6-2-2) and Northeastern (6-4-2).
Walsh had used this system in his first season, 1984-85, when his last-place Bears swept all three games from a Providence College team that went on to win the Hockey East Tournament and was the NCAA runnerup.
The Bears also benefited from a superb 42-save performance turned in by sophomore goalie Alfie Michaud, who considered it to be his best game in a Black Bear uniform.
“I got out and challenged. I tried to play aggressively,” said Michaud, who had stopped a career-high 51 shots in a 7-6 overtime win at Merrimack on Friday night. “They had 42 shots but I saw everything. I never saw a second shot. The boys were great clearing the front of the net. They made it a lot easier than it looked out there.”
Boston College coach Jerry York said Michaud was “excellent. That’s the best I’ve seen him play.”
Of his 42 saves, 26 of them came on high-percentage shots.
“He was the difference in us coming out with a point,” said junior defenseman David Cullen, who added that the trap did what it was supposed to do which was clog up the neutral zone and force BC to dump it in.
Maine allowed BC to skate up to its own blue line but as soon as the Eagle puck carrier entered the neutral zone, Maine attacked him.
“The key to the trap is patience,” said Cullen. “If you force things, that’s when your trap opens up and you have holes in it. Everyone really committed to defense.”
Walsh said, “It’s a tough system to play against. Our guys bought into it and we had a glittering chance to win it at the end with [Bobby] Stewart,” said Walsh. “Our guys have great heart. They showed it all weekend.
“We’re unbeaten in four straight road games and now we come home [to play UNH twice next weekend]. I can’t wait to get home,” added Walsh.
Stewart broke down the right wing with 35 seconds left in regulation, made a move on BC goalie Scott Clemmensen and pulled it to the backhand.
“I don’t know if he stopped it or I missed it,” said Stewart.
Clemmensen said, “I don’t think I stopped it. I think I was there and I would have made the save but he shot it off the side of the net.”
One of BC’s best chances came with 4:37 left in regulation when leading scorer Marty Reasoner cut right to left across the middle of the slot and fired a quick wrist shot labeled for the back side corner. But Michaud snared it with his glove.
“I thought he would be sliding that way [with me] and I could hopefully sneak it by him. But he played well and he made a good save there,” said Reasoner.
Michaud said, “I just tried to stay with him. I didn’t want to give him my short side. I wanted him to shoot back towards my glove and that’s what he did. Fortunately, I got it, held on to the rebound and stopped the play.”
Maine’s Jim Leger shot wide on a breakaway in the first period and Michaud stopped Jamie O’Leary’s second-period breakaway with his left pad.
In OT, BC’s Brian Gionta’s missed an open net from a very difficult angle.
Maine’s 17 shots on goal tied the school record for fewest in a game.
Bears 0, Eagles 0, OT (Saturday Night) Maine (9-7-3) 0 0 0 0 – 0 Boston College (12-6-3) 0 0 0 0 – 0
First period: No scoring. Penalties – BC, Hemenway, interference, 4:33; Maine, Trattnig, holding the stick, 5:05; Maine, Price, interference, 5:37; Maine, Stewart, interference, 7:45; BC, Hememway, roughing, 16:34.
Second period: No scoring. Penalties – Maine, Ek, holding, 3:09; BC, O’Leary, charging, 7:22; BC, Allen, cross checking, 18:29.
Third period: No scoring. Penalties – none.
Overtime: No scoring. Penalties – none.
Shots on goal: Maine 6-4-7-0 – 17; BC 12-13-15-2 – 42
High percentage scoring attempts: Maine 7-2-7-0 – 16; BC 12-13-12-4 – 41
Goaltenders: Maine, Alfie Michaud; BC, Scott Clemensen
Power plays: Maine 0-4, BC 0-4