Boston College became the first Hockey East team to win three Hockey East Championships in a row Saturday night. The Eagles handily defeated Maine Saturday night, 4-1, to take the title.
Eagles freshman Johnny Gaudreau tallied two beautiful goals in the first period to give his team a lead they would never let go of. Gaudreau played both nights like he was looking to prove league voters, who voted him runner-up to the rookie-of-the-year award, incorrect. He was all over the ice, pressuring Maine goalie Dan Sullivan, and had four shots in the first frame alone.
The Black Bears started to rev up their motors in the second period, much like they did Friday evening against Boston University. Maine’s top line right winger Joey Diamond fed the puck to linemate Brian Flynn to slide past Boston College goalie Parker Milner for a goal that brought the Black Bears within one. Maine was unable to keep up that momentum, and seemed disorganized without the services of senior top line left winger Spencer Abbott, who was out due to an upper-body injury suffered Friday evening.
Very late in the third period, Gaudreau struck again, sliding the puck from the boards behind the net to teammate Pat Mullane who shot straight on Sullivan to score. The goal gave Boston College a 3-1 lead to take into the second intermission.
The third period found both teams spending more time in the penalty box than they had all game. Neither team was able to convert on the resulting power plays. The Black Bears seemingly had a chance to even the game when the Eagles’ Stephen Whitney was sent to the box for elbowing at a very inopportune time at the close of the third. Maine pulled Sullivan in order to get a two man advantage on Boston College, but were continuously frustrated putting shots on net. Barry Almeida nabbed the puck with just over a minute left in the game and scored an empty-netter that put the game away for the Eagles.
Boston College has the nation’s first overall seed going into the NCAA Tournament securely in hand, and will learn their regional assignment Sunday morning. Maine’s season is also still alive, and they will most likely find themselves in a third or fourth tournament seed.