Boston University, ranked No. 7 in the nation, went into Saturday night’s game against Maine on a roll, looking to close out the first semester on a high note.
The Terriers were coming off an impressive road victory over No. 1 New Hampshire Thursday.
Last weekend, they split a two-game series with then-No. 1 Boston College, and had earned wins in three of their last four outings.
The Black Bears, on the other hand, went in with just two triumphs this season, only one against a Hockey East foe. They had one win in the previous four games (1-1-2) and prior to that had dropped seven in a row. But there wasn’t a lot separating the Black Bears from their opponents.
Ten of Maine’s first 14 games were decided by a goal or ended in a tie. Saturday’s game must have looked familiar to the Black Bears as the Terriers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first period and hung on for the win in front of 4,607 at Agganis Arena.
The teams head into the holiday recess on different trajectories, with Maine (2-11-2, 1-7-2) looking to rebuild and BU (10-5-0, 8-4-0) wanting to refresh and rejuvenate for the demanding second half.
BU’s goal was scored on the power play with junior defenseman Garrett Noonan beating junior goaltender Martin Ouellette (20 saves) to the short side on a slap shot from the left circle at 7:13. It was Noonan’s third tally of the season.
Maine was distinctly better on faceoffs in the opening 20 minutes, winning 11 of 12.
Although the Black Bears had nothing to show for it in on the scoreboard, they kept up the pace in the second, outshooting BU, 12-8.
At 15:08 Maine freshman Steven Swavely hooked BU sophomore center Cason Hohmann from behind, taking away a scoring chance. Officials called a penalty shot.
Hohmann took off from center ice, raced in on Ouellette, and went to his forehand, trying to beat the netminder high. But Ouellette gloved the puck.
Hohmann was stunned at the call.
“I think I was really fortunate to get a penalty shot,’’ he said. “I didn’t think it was much of a penalty at all. I didn’t think it was even a penalty.”
It was the first penalty shot awarded to BU since March 4, 2011 at Northeastern.
Sean Maguire (28 saves) earned his second career shutout and ran his goal-less streak to 131 minutes 19 seconds. He became the first Terrier since John Curry in 2007 to earn back-to-back shutouts.
Maine had a chance to pull even with 5:32 remaining in regulation when BU senior center Ben Rosen was assessed a five-minute major for boarding, but BU did a terrific job of killing it off.
“We weren’t looking for a moral victory tonight,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “We were looking for a real victory.”