BOSTON – Teams don’t get any points for moral victories or impressive performances so a season of frustration continued for the University of Maine hockey team Saturday night.
Boston University senior right wing Mike Sylvia’s power-play goal with 13:34 remaining, his second goal of the game, sent the Black Bears down to their fourth consecutive loss 3-2 at the Walter Brown Arena.
Three of those losses have been by one goal to teams ranked in the top five in the nation in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll.
BU is now 16-4-2 overall, 9-3-2 in Hockey East, while Maine fell to 9-11-3, 6-9-3. This is Maine’s first four-game losing streak since the 1989-90 season.
“They’ve underachieved a little bit this year but, come playoff time, you aren’t going to want to play that team,” said Sylvia, whose game-winner was the 11th of his career and fourth this season. “Shawn Walsh is a great coach and they have a great team. They’ll be better down the stretch. They always give us a tough game.”
Walsh was obviously upset by the refereeing of Bill Doiron but would not discuss it after the game, preferring to leave a post-game press conference abruptly.
“Given the adversity that we faced, I thought we held up terrifically well. No one lost their composure and we competed right until the very end,” Walsh said.
He added that the fact the Bears have lost one-goal games to BU and UNH “tells me how much better we’ve gotten. Those same teams beat us by 13 goals in November.”
Maine junior right wing and tri-captain Steve Kariya, who scored both of Maine’s goals, said Saturday’s game was a lot like Friday’s 4-3 setback to BU.
“We played all right but, every game, something costs us. Tonight it was penalties. They really hurt us. It wasn’t so much that BU converted on a lot of them but you can’t generate any offense when you’re killing penalties all the time,” said Kariya. “You can’t get anything going because your lines can’t get into a flow.”
BU went 2-for-9 on the power play and missed a penalty shot when Bear goalie Alfie Michaud got his left pad on Chris Heron’s first-period attempt. The Bears were 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
BU’s second goal, by sophomore defenseman Tom Poti, came on a five-on-three.
Sylvia’s game-winner was brilliantly set up by Russ Barlett, who took a pass from Albie O’Connell at the side of the net, wheeled in front and, despite being in good position to take a shot, passed it over to the wide open Sylvia at the far post.
“There were two great passes by Albie and Russ,” said Sylvia. “I had an empty net. The puck was a little on edge and I was on my back foot so I couldn’t one-time it. I controlled it first and that enabled me to get my shot up higher. That’s what you should do in that situation. Even if he [Michaud] did slide across, most of the top half of the net would have been open.”
Sylvia, who scored the pivotal goal to make it 4-2 in BU’s 6-2 win over the Bears in the national championship game in 1995, has “always gotten big goals for us with the biggest coming his freshman year when Maine was coming back on us in the national championship game,” said BU coach Jack Parker.
Sylvia opened the scoring with a four-on-four goal in the first period as he lifted a Jeff Kealty rebound over Michaud. Kariya equalized with a four-on-three power play wrist shot from the circle to the right of BU goalie Michel Larocque off a David Cullen circle-to-circle pass.
Poti made it 2-1 in the second period by one-timing a Chris Kelleher pass past Michaud from the circle to Michaud’s left. Kariya equalized while shorthanded, converting a two-on-one with Shawn Wansborough by one-timing Wansborough’s pinpoint pass into the short side.
Maine squandered two third-period power plays.
BU outshot Maine 29-17 but Parker said “the game was much more even territorially. Maine played extremely well. We were always a little back on our heels. I give our guys a lot of credit. Even though we spent so much time in the defensive zone, we didn’t get rattled.”
Terriers 3, Black Bears 2
Boston University(16-4-2) 1 1 1 – 3 Maine (9-11-3) 1 1 0 – 2
First period – 1. BU, Sylvia 12 (Kealty), 2:51; 2. Maine, Kariya 16 (Cullen, Kerluke), 11:01, pp. Penalties: BU, Drury, hitting after the whistle, 2:22; Maine, Gustafsson, hitting after the whistle, 2:22; Maine, Trattnig, elbowing, 6:22; BU, Donatelli, unsportsmanlike conduct, 10:04; Maine, Gustafsson, unsportsmanlike conduct, 10:04; Maine, Drury, hooking, 10:34; Maine, Price, tripping, 11:29; BU, Hanson, slashing, 14:39.
Second period – 3. BU, Poti 8 (Kelleher, Drury), 5:59, pp; 4. Maine, Kariya 17 (Wansborough, White), 16:32, sh. Penalties: Maine, Guite, slashing, 5:19; Maine, Stewart, double minor for cross checking, 5:28; BU, Gillis, hitting after the whistle, 5:28; Maine, Jaaskelainen, slashing, 10:25; Maine, White, cross checking, 11:50; Maine, M. Lundback, holding, 14:55; BU, Drury, interference, 17:02.
Third period – 5. BU, Sylvia 13 (O’Connell, Bartlett), 6:26, pp. Penalties: Maine, Price, roughing, 4:54; BU, Heron, tripping, 6:38; BU, Vuori, unsportsmanlike conduct, 12:04; Maine, Jaaskelainen, boarding, 13:59; BU, Gillis, roughing, 18:12; Maine, Jaaskelainen, roughing, 18:12.
Shots on goal: BU 10-10-9 – 29; Maine 8-5-4 – 17
Goaltenders: BU, Michel Larocque; Maine, Alfie Michaud.
High percentage scoring attempts: BU 6-13-7 – 26; Maine 8-3-5 – 16
Power-plays opportunities: BU 2-9, Maine 1-5