On Saturday night Boston College will take on the University of Maine Black Bears in the Hockey East Championship game. Boston College will be looking for their third consecutive Lamoriello trophy while Maine will be looking for their first title since 2004.
Boston College defeated Providence College 4-2 on Friday night in the first semifinal led by depth scoring and four different goal scorers. Johnny Gaudreau scored the game winning goal for the Eagles and Paul Carey had a goal and an assist in the game. Boston College enters the championship game on a 14 game winning streak.
Maine enters the Championship game off a win against Boston University on Friday night in the second semifinal. Maine got solid goaltending from Dan Sullivan late in the game to seal the victory. Will O Neill had his game of the year as he scored two goals and assisted on another. Maine also received two goals from Joey Diamond on the night.
Maine sends out the third ranked offense in Hockey East, scoring 3.42 goals per game and Boston College enters as the top rated scoring defense so something will have to give.
Maine was the last team to defeat Boston College almost two months ago. That weekend Maine swept Boston College on consecutive nights and the defeats sent the Eagles back to the drawing board. The weekend also marked the last time that someone other than Parker Milner started for Boston College in goal.
Since taking over the full time starting job in the Boston College net, Parker Milner has done nothing but impress the crowds. During the winning streak, Parker Milner has given up a stingy 1.27 goals per game and saved over 95 percent of shots that he has seen. His play has kept Boston College’s winning streak alive, as the Eagles over the last two weeks have not been playing its best hockey.
Dan Sullivan has had an average season in the Maine net and his average season is enough to suffice for a powerful Maine offensive attack. Sullivan’s numbers put him mid-pack for Hockey East goaltenders. Giving up 2.53 goals per game and saving 91 percent shots would make it hard for some teams to win but Maine is able to score enough to win.
The goalies will be the key to the game for both teams. Sullivan needs to be solid for the Black Bears to win the game. He did just enough against the Terriers but against Boston College enough may not be good to win the game. The Black Bears will throw a lot of shots at Milner on Saturday night and Milner will also need to be up to the task.
Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said “, Danny [Sullivan] has got a lot of poise back there. He stays calm under pressure and is a great influence for our team. He came out of nowhere in hockey circles and has turned out to be a great student of the game. He has done a great job and soaks it all in. I love his calm presence in the net. He was huge during the game.”
The last time these teams met in the Championship game was in 2010. Boston College pulled out a thrilling 7-6 victory in overtime. Both teams have seven players remaining from that team. Neither team will be lacking in experience but seemingly Boston College will have the advantage in that department, as they won the title last season.
Spencer Abbott, who went down midway through the second period, is seemingly doubtful for the Championship game. The Hobey Baker Award candidate and national leader in scoring will surely be missed on the Maine top line and his loss could be the difference in the game for Maine. The Black Bears need to come out with an edge and show Hockey East why they were the last team to defeat the Eagles nearly two months ago. Somebody will need to step up.
When asked about the injury to Spencer Abbott teammate Will O Neill said, “He is a tremendous player; he is one of the top players in the league. He is on a great line with Flynn and Joey [Diamond] and when a guy goes down like that everybody’s got to step up.”
On Friday night, Mark Anthoine stepped into Abbott’s place on the first line and scored the game winning goal. This goal should prove that he is capable, but there is no replacing a Spencer Abbott. His absence could send a ripple down effect through the lineup for Maine.
Saturday’s contest should be another classic Maine-Boston College Hockey East Championship game. Maine will be looking for their sixth Lamoriello trophy and Boston College will be seeking their 11th. Boston College and Maine have met in the championship game 6 times, with Boston College winning four those contests.
Prediction: Maine 5-4 OT