ORONO, Maine — It was a memorable Seniors Night at Alfond Arena on Saturday night.
Senior left wing Brendan Robbins scored two goals and also had an assist and senior goalie Rob McGovern, making his first start since Jan. 8, 2018, made 30 saves for his second career shutout to lead the University of Maine men’s hockey team to a 6-0 Hockey East victory over Boston University in their mutual regular-season finale.
Chase Pearson, Tim Doherty, Brady Keeper and Mitch Fossier scored the other goals for the Black Bears (15-15-4 overall, 11-9-4 HE). UMaine is the No. 6 seed for the Hockey East quarterfinals and will visit third seed Northeastern University for a best-of-three series beginning at 7 p.m. Friday at Matthews Arena in Boston.
Keeper and Fossier each had two assists to accompany their goals and Robbins and Pearson had an assist apiece to go with theirs. Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup and Sam Becker each had two assists.
BU’s Jake Oettinger made eight saves on 12 shots in 28:38 and Vinnie Purpura made 12 on 14 the rest of the way.
Boston University (14-16-4, 12-9-3 HE), which would have finished fourth and hosted UMass Lowell with a win, wound up fifth and will travel to UMass Lowell for its quarterfinal series.
“I’m so happy we won for me and my classmates,” said McGovern, one of seven seniors who was honored before the game. “We have been through a lot together and this was a perfect way to send us off.”
“They’re obviously a skilled team but our defensemen played unbelievable. They had great gaps and great sticks all night and we were talking the whole game,” added McGovern, who had 14 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves among his 30.
“[McGovern] deserved tonight,” said Robbins. “He works his butt off. He competes every day and pushes [starting goalie Jeremy Swayman] to get better. We couldn’t be happier for him. He played unbelievable. They had plenty of Grade-A’s.”
Pearson said the seniors have “given so much to the program that the least we could do was win for them tonight.”
“We played solid, defensively, and that helps our offense,” Pearson said. “We just kept it simple.”
He said his team is “big, fast and strong” and when they finish their checks, it makes it tougher for opposing defensemen to retrieve the puck in the defensive zone because “they know they’re going to get hit all the time.”
Robbins opened the scoring just 1:44 into the game and Pearson made it 2-0 5:35 later.
Robbins skated onto a high flip by Keeper in the right faceoff circle and his wrist shot from a tight angle sailed past the stick and blocker of Oettinger into the far corner.
“We work on that in practice a little bit,” said Robbins. “If I can read it, I can beat their guy to the puck. [Maine coach Red Gendron] is always harping on me to shoot more and that was a knuckleball puck. I can’t say I was trying to aim that. I just fired it and, luckily, it went in.”
Pearson made it 2-0 courtesy of a Fossier check along the boards which freed the puck up for him.
“[Fossier] made a heckuva’ play,” Pearson said. “I cut to the middle and was trying to pass it to [Eduards Tralmaks] but it hit a BU defenseman’s stick and went in.”
BU outshot UMaine 13-8 in the first period but the Terriers were stymied by McGovern, who had seven of his Grade-A stops in the first 20 minutes.
In the second period, UMaine carried the play and Robbins and Doherty made it 4-0 before Keeper and Fossier added third-period goals.
Robbins’ second goal of the game came 2:28 into the second period.
It was set up by a nifty move and pass by Schmidt-Svejstrup, who stickhandled between his legs and then pushed a perfect backhand pass into the path of Robbins.
“All I had to do was just tap it in,” Robbins said.
It was his ninth goal of the season and fifth over his last seven games.
Schmidt-Svejstrup was again the provider on the Doherty goal as his long diagonal pass sent Doherty in alone and Doherty wristed it past Oettinger’s stick side with 11:22 remaining in the period.
Oettinger, who entered the game with a .981 save percentage and 0.58 goals-against average over his previous five starts, was then relieved by freshman Purpura.
Keeper scored with an in-tight backhander after he made a scintillating rush and regained the puck when his centering pass deflected back to him.
Fossier capped the scoring when he got his stick on Keeper’s wrister.
“You’ve got to give Maine credit. They played a real good game,” said BU coach Albie O’Connell. “They stuck to their game plan, they outworked us. They put the puck behind us and tried to beat us in a foot race. They were hard in front of their net and hard in the D zone.”
“It was a great win,” Gendron said. “Our seniors’ final memory of playing at the Alfond Arena is going to be an extraordinarily pleasant one and we’re all delighted about that.”