BOSTON, Mass. — Great special-teams play has been an integral part of Maine’s success this season, and it was the deciding factor in its decisive 7-3 victory over Boston University during Saturday’s Frozen Fenway doubleheader.
The Black Bears (11-7-2, 5-2-1) entered the matchup as the only Hockey East squad ranked in the top five in power-play percentage and penalty-killing success, and it wasn’t hard to see why against the Terriers (7-11-2, 2-5-1).
Maine opened a huge first-period lead with three power-play goals. Black Bears forward Ryan Lomberg and Ben Hutton scored the first two power-play goals, and after an even-strength tally by forward Andrew Cerretani, Maine scored again on the man advantage, with Dallas Stars draftee Devin Shore giving his team a 4-0 cushion going into the first intermission.
“It was the penalty kill that put us behind,” Terriers head coach David Quinn said. “I thought we had a good first seven or eight minutes. Unnecessary, needless penalties put us behind the 8 ball.
“You give up three power-play goals and you’re down 4-0 before the first period ends, which hasn’t happened to us all year,” Quinn said.
“The penalty kill has been pretty good all year. Give their power play credit. They do a great job of getting to the net, they get pucks to their point and they just jet it to the net.”
Maine ended the game with three power-play goals in six opportunities, and they also scored a short-handed tally when BU had its goalie pulled late in the third period. The Terriers went 1 of 8 on power plays.
“Our players just did a great job delivering the puck to the net, we had some traffic,” Maine head coach Red Gendron said when assessing his team’s red-hot power play.
Maine did a tremendous job moving the puck to keep the Terriers’ penalty killers in motion, and that opened shooting lanes for Black Bears defensemen to fire shots on net. When the puck was loose in and around the crease, the Black Bears won the 50-50 battles and found a way to score. As a result, Maine now leads Hockey East with a plus-15 rating on special teams.
Saturday’s win was a perfect illustration of how Maine — which lacks size and aims to beat opponents with its high level of skill — needs to play to be successful.
Photo via Twitter/@Warrior