If the University of Maine men’s hockey team was going to upset the No. 19 Boston College Eagles on Thursday night at the Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, it couldn’t afford to fall behind early.
The Black Bears did just that and never recovered.
The Eagles scored twice in the game’s first 2:39 and went on to post a 6-2 victory behind Jack McBain’s hat trick.
Boston College improved to 7-5-1 overall and 5-3 in Hockey East while UMaine fell to 1-9-1 and 1-6, respectively.
The teams will conclude their two-game set on Friday night at 7 p.m.
Casey Carreau, Marc McLaughlin and Mike Posma scored the other goals for BC with Grant Hebert and Donavan Houle registering the UMaine goals.
Brandon Kruse had three assists for the Eagles and fellow Bowling Green transfer Eric Dop made 23 saves.
Matt Thiessen had four saves and allowed three goals before being replaced by Victor Ostman after McBain made it 3-0 just 10:25 into the game.
Ostman finished with 18 saves and allowed three goals.
Carreau opened the scoring 1:47 into the game with his first goal of the season.
Posma and Colby Ambrosio worked a nice passing sequence before feeding Carreau, who snapped home a wrister from the slot.
Fifty-two seconds later, Kruse stole the puck in the corner and quickly fed the unattended McBain, who skated to the front of the net and lifted a 12-foot backhander past Thiessen’s glove into the far corner for his seventh of the season.
McBain extended the lead off a nifty pass from behind the net by Kruse.
It appeared as though Kruse was going to skate around the net but, instead, he flipped a pass to McBain at the near post and he beat Thiessen with a one-timer.
Ostman came on and the Black Bears began playing better.
Moments after the Black Bears’ Ben Poisson rattled a shot off the crossbar from the left circle, Hebert broke in on a two-on-one and scored from just about the same spot as Poisson’s shot as he beat Dop to the far corner past the glove.
It was the Robert Morris transfer’s fourth of the season.
The Eagles restored their three-goal lead on the power play 7:16 into the second period.
Eleven seconds after going on the power play, BC won a faceoff to the right of Ostman and Drew Helleson found the open McLaughlin in the middle of the slot and he fired the puck past Ostman for his ninth of the campaign.
Houle answered exactly 10 minutes later when he carried the puck down the right wing and beat Dop with a shot from the right faceoff circle that nestled inside the far post for his third of the season. Hebert assisted on the goal.
But McBain capped his hat trick with an important goal just 32 seconds before the period’s end.
Again Kruse had the puck behind the net and McBain maneuvered across the low slot with UMaine’s Simon Butala in front of him.
McBain stopped abruptly at the near post to get separation from Butala and Kruse passed it out to him for a one-timer into the short side.
Posma added an insurance goal in the third period, his second of the campaign.
UMaine head coach Ben Barr said the game was similar to last Friday night’s 6-5 overtime win against Merrimack in which his team was outscored 3-1 in the first period and outshot 15-1.
“It’s easy to say we have to start better. We have tried different things. You can’t spot teams 2-0 or 3-0 leads,” Barr said. “We’re playing losing hockey right now. The guys worked hard and some of them played well. But all of our mistakes wind up in the back of our net. BC can do that to you. We just have to keep going.”
UMaine winger Matthew Fawcett suffered an injury in the first period and didn’t return. Barr said he didn’t know the extent of the injury.