By Mitch Fink
The Boston University men’s hockey team is high off a sweep of Boston College. The Beanpot is just days away. BU is ranked third in the nation.
There’s a lot to get excited about.
But before the Terriers can shift focus to Northeastern and the Beanpot semifinals at TD Garden next Monday, BU (19-6-0, 13-4-0 Hockey East) needs to take care of business on the road Friday night against the University of Maine (11-12-2, 5-8-1 HE).
This matchup has “trap game” written all over it.
“Important weekend for us… important game,” head coach Jay Pandolfo said Wednesday during his media availability. “We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to go.”
The Black Bears are a stingy opponent, and they’re even stingier on home ice. Just ask last year’s BU team, which had its hopes of an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament dashed after losing, 8-1, to Maine at the Alfond in Orono.
This year, Maine has proven its worth as a tough, hard-nosed Hockey East team. BU swept the Black Bears two weeks ago at Agganis Arena, but Maine played the Terriers tough. BU won the first game, 5-1, but the Black Bears came back from a four-goal deficit in the second game to tie things up in the second period. The Terriers ultimately emerged with a 9-6 win.
“I hope we play a more consistent game,” Pandolfo said. “I thought there were pockets that weekend where we played really well, and I thought there were pockets where we just got away from our game. I think for us, going on the road, we just have the mindset of playing a simple, direct type of game.”
Junior forward Lynden Breen leads Maine in both goals (11) and points (20). Senior forward Ben Poisson follows suit with 19 points and a team-high +7 plus-minus. Senior Victor Ostman has started almost every game for Maine in net, and holds a .922 save percentage and a 2.15 goals against average.
Maine is ranked 31 in the Pairwise — one spot ahead of UMass and only four places behind Boston College. The Black Bears come into the matchup after sweeping a ranked Providence College in a pair of home games. Maine is 8-3-1 at home this year, including a win over No. 2 Quinnipiac earlier in the season.
“It’s a tough place to play. Number one, It’s a tight building,” Pandolfo said. “The fans are right on top of you. It just seems for whatever reason the ice surface feels a little bit smaller. Things happen really quickly there, so you have to be ready for that.”
Considering how BU has played against lower-ranked teams this season, the Terriers will be ready. The only team BU has lost to that is currently under .500 is Boston College and, well, anything can happen in the Battle of Comm. Ave.
BU junior goaltender Drew Commesso will look to build on his best series of the season against BC, when Commesso made 64 saves and single handedly kept BU afloat at times — especially in the second game of the series.
Senior defenseman and captain Domenick Fensore has been sidelined since BU’s 5-1 win over Maine on Jan. 20, and while Pandolfo said Fensore remains day-to-day, there’s a chance he could play Friday.
Puck drop is set for 7:00 pm in Orono with full coverage on Instagram @Boston.Hockey.Blog and Twitter @BosHockeyBlog.