It had been a while since there was this much buzz around a men’s hockey game between Boston University and Maine. The weekend series at Agganis Arena marked the first time in 13 years that both programs entered a regular-season matchup ranked in the top 10.
The teams did not disappoint, with BU (8-3-1) coming away with a pair of one-goal wins to get the sweep, and that’s where the weekend recap begins.
▪ In a way, it was an ideal scenario for BU coach Jay Pandolfo. His team got the victories, but there were concerns that he could point out to his players afterward. In both games, the Terriers led by multiple goals in the third period, only to see Maine (6-3-1) pull within one and have several chances for the equalizer.
BU goalie Mathieu Caron posted a season-high 39 saves in Saturday’s 5-4 win, including 17 in the third period, when the Black Bears clawed their way back from a 5-2 deficit.
“We need to learn how to close games out,” said Pandolfo, whose squad has not lost in regulation in its last nine games. “I wasn’t happy with letting them get back in the game. That’s something we have to learn from. We have to manage the game much better.
“It’s still early in the season, so hopefully we learn from that, but overall it was a good weekend for us.”
Maine coach Ben Barr was not interested in talking about moral victories, but it was hard not to be impressed with the Black Bears after they followed up their win and tie the previous week against Boston College with the tightly contested losses against BU, which moved up to No. 5 in the USCHO.com poll. Maine dipped one spot to 10th.
“I think our team proved to each other that we can be there with top teams,” said Barr. “I think we have a work ethic that can keep us with anybody, and potentially can get the other team to bend a little bit. That’s what we have to rely on when playing teams like this.”
BU freshman Macklin Celebrini is tied for the NCAA scoring lead with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists), and is the only player averaging 2.0 points per game after registering one goal and three assists over the weekend.
Next up for the Terriers will be a Thanksgiving eve matchup with defending national champion Quinnipiac (9-3-1) at Agganis Arena. Like BU, the third-ranked Bobcats appear to have moved past their early-season struggles and are on a five-game winning streak in which they have outscored opponents, 31-11.
▪ There’s been a lot of talk about how deep Hockey East is, and with six of the conference’s teams ranked in the top 15, for good reason.
So it was a bit of a surprise to see four of the five series result in sweeps. BC (9-2-1) bounced back from the Maine series to take two from UConn (5-8-1), including a wild 5-4 win in overtime at Conte Forum Friday, followed by a 3-0 victory in Storrs Saturday, with freshman Jacob Fowler recording 31 saves for his first collegiate shutout.
“His maturity and his mental makeup is beyond his 18 years,” said BC coach Greg Brown. “He really stays calm in the net no matter what’s happening. He’s got a great disposition. He doesn’t get too excited if he makes a couple of big saves, and doesn’t get rattled if one gets by him that he doesn’t like.”
The freshman line of Gabe Perreault (10 games), Will Smith (6), and Ryan Leonard (6) extended their point streaks, while sophomore Cutter Gauthier had three goals over the weekend to give him 11 in 12 games, including the winner Friday night. The Eagles moved up to No. 2 behind North Dakota.
▪ UMass (8-3-1) used late-game heroics to rally from third-period deficits and come up with a sweep of Providence (8-3-2), handing the Friars their first two losses in Hockey East. Junior Ryan Ufko had the tying goal in Thursday’s 3-2 win at Providence before Lucas Mercuri scored the winner with less than a minute remaining.
Ufko delivered again in Amherst Saturday, scoring 1:04 into overtime to lift the Minutemen to the 2-1 win.
Freshman Michael Hrabal stopped 53 of 56 shots over the weekend to pick up both wins as UMass moved up four spots to 11th, while Providence remained in the top 10, falling back four spots to ninth.
▪ New Hampshire (6-2-1) keeps chugging along, returning from a bye to take a home-and-home series with Northeastern (2-7), outscoring the struggling Huskies, 8-2. Goalies Tyler Muszelik and Jakob Hellsten each got a win, with Hellsten stopping 21 shots Saturday for his first collegiate shutout.
No. 12 UNH is off to its best start since the 2017-18 season and does not appear to be going away anytime soon.
▪ In Atlantic Hockey action, Holy Cross (6-5-2) snapped a seven-game winless streak with a sweep of Bentley (6-6), winning both games by a 2-0 score. Junior Thomas Gale stopped 52 shots as the Crusaders posted consecutive shutouts for the first time in program history.
Follow Andrew Mahoney @GlobeMahoney.