Boston College men’s hockey entered Friday night’s matchup against Maine after being swept by Massachusetts the week prior, and was desperately searching for any sort of momentum. The Eagles didn’t find it in front of a crowd of almost 4,000 at Alfond Arena on Friday night, extending their losing streak to five games with a 2-1 setback.
BC’s (10-17-3, 9-8-3 Hockey East) last five games have been defined by offensive struggles, as it has been outscored by nine goals during the tough stretch. Eight of the past nine matchups for the Eagles have been against ranked programs, and BC has not fared well overall, the latest defeat coming at the hands of a Maine (13-4-4, 9-8-4) team that leapfrogged head coach Jerry York and Co. in the conference standings.
The narrative of the majority of the season seemed to play out during Friday night’s matchup—the Eagles played solid defensively and generated some decent scoring chances all night but simply could not finish. They struggled to find the back of the net throughout the entire game, despite registering eight more shots than their opponents, only scoring once in the closing minute. Black Bears netminder Jerry Swayman had a solid night in net, stopping 32 of the Eagles’ shots.
Both teams ran into penalty trouble in the beginning of the night, as just five minutes in, it was Maine’s Mitchell Fossier and BC’s Aapeli Räsänen that went to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. This set the tone for the rest of the game—one that was defined by physicality and featured 10 combined penalties. Eventually, the Black Bears managed to draw first blood a little after the midway mark of the first period. The Eagles committed a sloppy defensive turnover, and Fossier redeemed himself. He was off to the races, taking advantage of the giveaway and netting the puck off the left wing, beating BC netminder Joseph Woll short side.
The second frame proved to be the Eagles’ strongest offensive period, as they outshot the Black Bears, 15-6, but they could not manage to get one past Swayman. Their ineffectiveness on offense wasn’t replicated by their hosts, though, as Eduards Tralmarks doubled Maine’s lead at the 6:52 mark in the second period. BC initially blocked a shot from the point, but Tralmarks picked up the loose puck in the slot and spun around to fling a low shot just inside the left post. The goal was assisted by Keith Muehlbauer and Fossier.
Both teams traded decent chances, but it would remain a two-goal lead for the Black Bears up to the final minutes. The Eagles finally scored with a minute and 33 seconds left while playing with a two-man advantage, as Woll was on the bench and they were on their fourth power play after Brady Keeper was whistled for tripping. The Maine penalty kill was strong all night long, with its defense blocking 11 of the Eagles’ shots, but it couldn’t hold off the Eagles while playing 4-on-6 hockey. Räsänen was the lone scorer for BC, as he netted the puck down low on a clean one-timer from Logan Hutsko at the top of the slot.
Immediately following that goal, the Eagles made a valiant push in the final minute of the game with an extra skater. Christopher Brown and Hutsko both had excellent scoring opportunities, but the Black Bears managed to hold off the Eagles’ last minute net-front scramble. Brown had a great look on a quick wraparound but was stopped on a solid play by Swayman. Hutsko tried to jam the puck on the left side, but the Black Bears ended up the victor in this doorstep scrum.
The defeat sunk the Eagles further in the conference standings, a late-season slide that has plummeted them to seventh. At this rate, BC is looking up at far from favorable first round matchups. The current matchup would be with No. 2 Massachusetts Lowell, a team that kickstarted this recent downward spiral by handing the Eagles a 3-0 defeat on Feb. 8.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Senior Staff