On a night dominated by upsets in the Hockey East playoffs, the University of Maine gave the No. 1 team in college hockey all it could handle. That is, until the nation’s top-ranked power play finally showed its true colors.
Sophomore defenseman Colby Cohen broke a tie late in the third period Friday as the top-seeded Boston University men’s hockey team edged eighth-seeded Maine, 2-1, in Game One of the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series at Agganis Arena.
Cohen, sophomore defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and sophomore forward Colin Wilson notched two points apiece for the Terriers (28-5-4), who came up empty on their first six power plays before cashing in during a 5-on-3 advantage with 2:56 left in regulation.
BU coach Jack Parker was anything but satisfied with his team’s spotty effort in its postseason debut.
‘I was disappointed that we didn’t play with more emotion and a little more zip,’ Parker said. ‘We were very fortunate to get a ‘W’ tonight. Maine played harder than we did in almost every phase of the game.’
Sophomore forward Tanner House scored a power-play goal in the final minute of the first period for the Black Bears (12-21-4), who are winless in their last 13 tries against BU.’
‘We were pleased with our how our guys were playing,’ Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. ‘We stuck to the gameplan and we certainly had our chances to win it.’
Despite giving an effort that deserved a better fate, the Black Bears were the lone road team not to earn a win among Friday’s Hockey East underdogs. The fifth-ranked University of Massachusetts-Lowell, sixth-seeded Boston College and the seventh-seeded University of Massachusetts-Amherst all emerged victorious to move within one game of a trip to the conference semifinals.
For a BU team that entered Friday boasting a nation-best 24.3-percent conversion rate with the man-advantage, quality scoring chances were hard to come by against Maine’s 27th-ranked penalty kill (84.5 percent).
‘I thought Maine played great,’ Parker said. ‘They did a fabulous job killing penalties. You have to give them a lot of credit, coming in here playing the number one team in the nation. They certainly didn’t make us look like the number one team in the nation tonight. They made us look very vulnerable.’
After stifling the Terriers on their first six man-up opportunities, the Black Bears finally came undone when they fell victim to the superior vision of Wilson during a third-period 5-on-3 advantage.
Stationed inside the right circle, the Hobey Baker Award candidate zipped a pinpoint pass to Cohen at the left faceoff dot. With his stick cocked and ready to rip, the blueliner reared back and buried the feed inside the right post to give BU its only lead of the night.
‘Wilson has such good patience with the puck,’ Cohen said. ‘He sent a perfect flat pass right in my wheelhouse. You have to give him most of the credit on that play.’
House capped a sluggish opening period by both teams with 23 seconds left in the first, redirecting a slap shot from senior defenseman Matt Duffy inside the left post to beat BU freshman goaltender Kieran Millan (20 saves). ‘
Wilson and the Terriers responded with the equalizer 10:59 into the second period, as Hockey East’s leading scorer found Shattenkirk in the high slot for a wrist shot that eluded Maine freshman goaltender Scott Darling (23 saves). ‘ ‘
Game notes: Wilson’s 48 points rank second nationally behind Quinnipiac University’s Bryan Leitch (57). ‘hellip; BU improved to 21-1-4 since Nov. 25. ‘hellip; Three of Cohen’s six goals this season have come on the power play.