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Black Bears fall to BU in semifinals

For the first time since 2005, the Hockey East championship weekend at TD Garden sold out all three games to a crowd of 17,850. For the first time since 2012, the University of Maine Black Bears played in the Hockey East semifinals.

The streets outside and the seats inside were flooded with blue and white jerseys as Maine fans traveled down to Boston to support their team. At Alfond Arena i Orono,  the Black Bears earned a tremendous 13-2-2 record on the season. The home crowd advantage was a huge boost all season long for Maine, and even in Boston, they had a majority crowd cheering them on from the stands on Friday.

They played against Boston University, a defending champion and ranked second in both Hockey East and the country. They would be Maine’s first potential opponent. The Terriers have dominated all year and accumulated an impressive record of 25-8-2 heading into the game. 

They have an immense amount of talent on their team. Boston has 14 players who have already been drafted by NHL teams. First-year forward Macklin Celebrini is projected to be the  No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. Celebrini scored 30 goals this season to win the Hockey East Rookie of the Year as well as Hockey East Player of the Year.

The Black Bears entered the weekend as the third seed in Hockey East and ranked seventh in the country. Compared to Boston, Maine has just one NHL Draft pick, first-year forward Bradly Nadeau. In the first two matchups against the Terriers this season, Maine went 0-2 on the road, losing both games by just one goal.

The game started a little sloppy for the Black Bears, giving up multiple high-quality scoring chances to Boston. Eventually, Terrier second-year forward Ryan Greene finished off a one-timer in the slot from second-year forward Quinn Hutson to make it 1-0 Boston.

After the goal, Maine started to gain some momentum. With two minutes remaining in the period, the Black Bears had their first power play of the game. They recorded four shots on goal in the two minutes but couldn’t tie the game, and the score remained 1-0 heading into the first intermission.

After back-and-forth action to start the second period, Boston sophomore defenseman Lane Hutson scored a powerplay goal nine minutes into the period to make it 2-0. Maine recorded 12 shots on goal in the second period, yet was once again unable to score. Third-year goalie Mathieu Caron was the x-factor of the game, as he stopped 32 of 33 Maine’s shots on the net.

The Black Bears finally got on the board  six minutes into the third period to make the score 2-1. Fourth-year forward and captain Lynden Breen scored a power-play goal, beating Caron on a wrist shot over the shoulder. Second-year defenseman Brandon Chabrier and first-year forward Bradly Nadeau tallied assists on the goal. This propelled much-needed energy into the Maine fans for the rest of the third period. 

After a few more chances to tie it, the Terriers’ responded with another power-play goal. While Maine outshot Boston 33-18, the Terriers’ capitalizing on their opportunities by going two for three on the powerplay was key. Greene scored his second of the night, giving Boston a 3-1 lead over Maine. They would add an empty net goal to finish off the Black Bears 4-1.

Boston College dominated the University of Massachusetts Amherst by a score of 8-1 in the other Hockey East semifinal game. They also took down BU in the finals to win the tournament. Boston College and Boston University will play in the NCAA Tournament as the top two seeds. 

Maine has also mathematically clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament. 16 out of 64 Division I teams make the tournament, and Maine will likely be a two-seed. The Black Bears will discover their opponent and game location during the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday, March 24. Their next game will be the weekend of March 30 and 31.


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