March came in like a lion on Friday night (March 1st), and it was the University of Maine that did most of the roaring as the Black Bears skated to a 9-6 win over host Boston University in Hockey East.
The win improved the Black Bears' overall record to 20-9-6 and 14-5-4 in league action. In the meantime, the loss ended a nine-game winning streak for the Terriers, who are now 23-8-2 overall and 15-6-2 in Hockey East play. The two teams are tied for second place, just one point behind idle University of New Hampshire. The Terriers and Black Bears will close out their regular seasons on Saturday night with another game at B.U.'s Walter Brown Arena.
The kings of the den for Maine were Niko Dimitrakos, Colin Shields, and Martin Kariya, who combined for 5 goals and 8 assists. Dimitrakos led the way with 2 goals and 3 assists, while Shields chipped in with 2 goals and 2 assists, and Kariya had a goal and 3 assists. Along the way, the youngest of the three Kariya boys who have played at Maine, became the 39th player in Black Bear history to notch his 100th career point.
Ahead 3-2 at the end of the first period, Maine exploded for five second-period goals to put the game out of reach. Shields scored twice for the Black Bears, while Dimitrakos, John Ronan, Lucas Lawson tallied once. In the meantime, freshman Justin Maiser (Edina, MN) accounted for the Terriers' only goal.
The Terriers managed to make the final outcome respectable with three third-period goals, but it was a matter of too little too late.
Senior Jack Baker (South Boston), who finished the night with a career-best four points on a goal and three assists, scored B.U. first goal in the final period. Sophomore Frantisek Skladany (Martin,Slovakia) scored the other two within a span of 21 seconds, as B.U. cut the deficit to 8-6. However, Kariya countered with a goal at 17:15 to close out the scoring.
The nine goals scored by Maine marked the second-highest single-game total the Terriers have allowed at Walter Brown Arena. Colgate also skated to a 9-6 win over the host Terriers on November 3, 1990. B.U. has been playing at Walter Brown Arena since November, 1971.
"This was a crazy game," Maine head coach Tim Whitehead said after the game. "The goals came easier than I thought. It was certainly an entertaining game for the fans, but it wasn't for (Terrier head coach) Jack (Parker) and the players.
"Anytime you can steal a couple of points against B.U. at Brown Arena, it's a big game," the coach continued. "The key game is tomorrow night. We have to come out focused the way we did in the first period tonight."
Through the first 20 minutes, the Black Bears led by just the one-goal margin. Maine got goals from Dimitrakos, Robert Liscak, and Ben Murphy, while freshmen Brian McConnell (Norfolk) and Bryan Miller (Wayne, NJ) scored for the Terriers.
"It was only 3-2, but it could have been 6 or 7 to 2," said Parker. "They came out and blitzed us, and we weren't ready for Maine.
"The score at the end of two periods (8-3) was more indicative of the game," the coach went on. "They dominated us, and it was a real old-fashioned ass kicking.
"The difference was their intensity, speed, and poise," said Parker. "Their quickness hurt us, and we weren't ready to play. We didn't play defense, and they buzzed us especially in the second period.
"However, I was pleased with how we came back in the third period," concluded Parker.
Not only did the Terriers lose the game, they also lost Miller, who scored a first-period goal, but suffered a dislocated left shoulder in the second period. He will be out at least two to three weeks.