A new King of Hockey East has been crowned. Boston College defeated Maine Saturday night at TD Garden to earn their ninth Hockey East tournament championship and bring the title back to Chesnut Hill.
Matt Lombardi’s hat trick and game-winning goal lifted the Eagles to a thrilling 7-6 overtime win.
In a penalty-filled, intense physical matchup, the entire game mimicked a seesaw scoring pattern beginning in the first period. Nearly every time BC scored, Maine was on their heels to respond for a quick goal.
Carl Sneep grabbed the first goal of the game for BC on the powerplay when he ripped a laser slap shot from the right point just under the crossbar. The Eagles showed good puck movement on the man-advantage with Pat Mullane and Jimmy Hayes helping set up the play.
Before BC could even finish celebrating, the dangerous Gustav Nyquist came back 24 seconds later at 12:08 to even the score at one. He saw an opening and took the puck hard to net to slip a bouncing puck up and over the glove of BC netminder John Muse.
The last two goals of the period were scored with less than five minutes remaining in the first. Lombardi regained the Eagles' lead at 15:19 starting with a great breakout in BC’s defensive end. Chris Kreider skated the length of the ice and managed to split Maine’s defense where Lombardi picked up the loose puck to sneak it past Maine goalie Dave Wilson.
Just when BC thought they could enjoy the lead, Maine answered again for a quick goal 36 seconds later from Joey Diamond. After having his first shot blocked by a BC defenseman, he remained persistent and scored on his second try at 15:55. The period finished with the Eagles doubling the Black Bears in shots 16-8.
Despite Maine outshooting BC 16-5 throughout the second period, the Eagle’s offense hit the ice flying to score two consecutive goals within the first five minutes of the period.
Joe Whitney gave the Eagles their third lead of the game at 1:39. His slap shot from the point found the back of the net through a lot of traffic. Wilson was screened on the play, making it nearly impossible to see.
BC would add to their lead just four minutes later at 5:35 when Lombardi scored his second goal of the game to made it 4-2. Matt Price’s initial shot from the far right slot took an awkward bounce off the back boards and found Lombardi who was parked on the other side of the net. He capitalized while Wilson was caught out of position.
BC’s penalties caught up to them before the end of the period, however. Maine cut the lead at 15:04 on the powerplay when Nyquist set up Tanner House in the slot for a one-time to beat Muse along the ice and bring his team within one to start the third period.
BC would be the first to strike in the third. Hayes scored at 5:16 on a tricky spin move from behind the net.
The Black Bears capitalized on another powerplay opportunity shortly after at 8:17. David deKastrozza buried a high one-timer when the Eagles' defense failed to clear the puck.
BC’s Barry Almeida connected with Lombardi and Brian Gibbons at 14:23 to reclaim another two goal lead for the Eagles.
Just like clockwork, Maine refused to give up. On a clean faceoff in BC’s offensive zone, Spencer Abbott cut the Eagle’s lead to one again at 14:59 with the assist from Robby Dee.
With just 30 seconds remaining in the game, the Black Bears tied it up at 19:33 after pulling Wilson for the extra skater. Diamond fired his second goal of the night off of a faceoff to send the game into overtime.
Lombardi was the hero in overtime when he netted his third goal of the night at 5:26 to send TD Garden to their feet. Price and Brian Dumoulin worked a cycle down low to find Lombardi parked just outside the crease.
With the win, the Eagles maintained a perfect postseason run with a 4-0 record. Maine refused to quit and earned a well deserved runner-up finish. Wilson finished with a game high 34 saves as the Eagles nudged the Black Bears in shots 34-32.
BC will look to continue their season in the upcoming NCAA tournament.