ORONO, Maine — Boston University hockey coach David Quinn said people underestimate the role “luck” plays in the outcome of games.
He was addressing the media after his Terriers won their eighth straight game Saturday night, 3-1 over the University of Maine, thanks to a fortuitous bounce which resulted in junior defenseman Brandon Hickey’s important insurance goal with 10:37 remaining in regulation.
Hickey’s goal, coming in his 100th career game, made it 3-1 and stalled UMaine’s momentum just 3:05 after the Black Bears’ Blaine Byron had scored a power-play goal to cut the lead to 2-1.
Byron had received a fortunate bounce when his wrist shot from the left circle hit Boston defenseman Dante Fabbro’s body and floated into the net.
But Hickey cancelled that out when he busted down the left wing and swept the puck into the short-side corner after Clayton Keller’s shot from the top of the right circle deflected off UMaine’s Mark Hamilton and landed right in his path.
“[Hamilton] made a great play on it,” UMaine sophomore goalie Rob McGovern said. “He blocked it but it took a lucky bounce and landed right on [Hickey’s] tape.”
“That’s the game of hockey,” UMaine coach Red Gendron said. “Lucky bounces and unlucky bounces happen to both teams most nights.”
The Black Bears hit three posts in the game with two coming off the stick of freshman defenseman Patrick Holway. The other belonged to Ryan Smith.
Bobo Carpenter rang a shot off the post for Boston, which has eight first or second round NHL draft picks on its roster.
Holway’s screened wrist shot from the midpoint off a Mitch Fossier pass glanced off the post to the right of Boston standout freshman goalie Jake Oettinger late in the second period with Boston holding a 1-0 lead.
Just seconds later, Boston went on the power play, and Patrick Harper scored to make it 2-0.
“I think we got more [lucky] bounces than they did,” Quinn, whose team won its eighth straight game and has now beaten the Black Bears six consecutive times, said with a grin.
The nation’s third-ranked Terriers are now 16-5-2 overall, 9-2-2 in Hockey East, while UMaine fell to 8-13-3 and 2-9-1, respectively.
A sellout crowd of 5,125 was treated to an entertaining, up-tempo affair with end-to-end action, several bone-rattling checks, and exceptional goaltending from Oettinger and McGovern.
Oettinger finished with 26 saves including a 10 Grade-A (high-percentage) stops, while McGovern wound up with 34 saves including 18 of the Grade-A variety.
“Jake’s an elite goalie. We’re lucky to have him. And their goalie made some unbelievable saves,” said Quinn, who added that he was pleased with the sweep. The Terriers beat UMaine 4-1 on Friday night in Boston.
“It’s tough to win up here,” Quinn said.
Boston led 2-0 after two periods as freshman center and first round NHL draft pick Keller scored a shorthanded goal in the first period and freshman right wing Harper swelled the lead at the 15:32 mark of the second.
Byron scored 6:18 into the third period.
Each team had good scoring chances in a lively and evenly-played first period, but Keller was the only player to light the goal lamp when he intercepted an ill-advised diagonal pass by UMaine defenseman Rob Michel, broke in all alone, made a few fakes, and deposited a backhander past McGovern.
Boston went on the power play just 18 seconds after Keller scored and McGovern came up with a terrific, point-blank save off Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson to keep the Black Bears within one.
Brendan Robbins had an opportunity to tie it on a breakaway in the final seconds, but he missed the target.
Harper expanded the lead at the 15:32 mark of the middle period when Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson chased down a loose puck behind the UMaine net and fed a cross-ice pass to Harper, who one-timed a 20-footer into the short side.
UMaine killed off a 5-on-3 disadvantage that lasted 1:30 and spanned the end of the second period and opening seconds of the third period to stay within two and Byron energized the crowd with his goal.
“I can’t fault the effort, how hard our kids worked and how hard they competed,” Gendron said. “We played physical, we battled to come back. We had two-on-ones and breakaways that we didn’t finish on Friday night and we didn’t finish them tonight either. We missed the net on some of them which is frustrating.”
UMaine hosts the University of Massachusetts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday.