The lightning should have served as a warning about what was to come.
The Boston University men’s hockey team already trailed the University of Maine 1-0 when sophomore center Sam Kurker was called for tripping.
Within seconds a flash of light filled Fenway Park and a clap of thunder shocked everyone sitting within the confines of the stadium – including the players who promptly scurried off the ice.
“Our penalty kill has been pretty good all year,” said BU coach David Quinn. “Right now we’re in a situation where it’s one thing after another. It’s a different problem every game right now, and that’s something we’re going to have to correct.
“Penalties have crept into our game. Early in the season, they were a huge problem for us. I thought we had corrected it as the season went on.”
Quinn said from the first week of the season that he wanted the Terriers to have no more than four penalties per game. By the time BU entered November, the team was living up to that expectation. In the three games since the second half of the season kicked off, though, the team has faltered once again with a nine-penalty game against Harvard University, three penalties in the first period against Dartmouth College and Saturday’s six-penalty game against Maine.
That ability did not work against Maine, though, as the Black Bears took the first three chances they had to jump on the board with the man advantage, ultimately putting the Terriers into a 4-0 hole by the end of the first.
It started when senior captain Garrett Noonan went to the box for boarding at 5:26, just a few seconds after BU had failed to convert on its own power-play chance. Just over a minute into the penalty, Maine wing Ryan Lomberg picked up a pass while in the slot and sent it through sophomore goaltender Matt O’Connor’s five-hole.
Maine’s second goal was far more crazed as it took just five seconds into the power-play for them to score, but took more than an hour from the time of the penalty to the goal for it to occur. After a thunderstorm paused over Fenway and workers spent more than half an hour trying to fix the ice, Kurker made his way to the box. Right off of the faceoff defenseman Ben Hutton wristed a shot into the back of the net.
As Maine scored its first even-strength goal of the night, freshman defenseman Doyle Somerby was called for slashing. Once again, it took less than a minute for Maine to convert as center Devin Shore put the final goal of the frame by O’Connor.
With the end of the first came the end of Maine’s power-play surge, as the Terriers went three-for-three on the penalty kill for the rest of the game. Those first-period goals, however, put BU in a hole it could not escape.
“Unnecessary, needless penalties put us behind the 8-ball,” Quinn said. “Three-for-six, that hasn’t happened to us all year long. Give their power play credit. …They’re not drawing a Picasso out there. They get it to the point, they get it to the net and their forwards get to the net with a purpose. It gave our goalie problems and it gave our net-front D problems.”