Reports of the end of the January slump have been greatly exaggerated.
The #3 Boston College Eagles suffered their most ignominious defeat of the season to date on Friday night while hosting the Maine Black Bears, the tenth-place team in Hockey East which had only won one of its fourteen conference games before tonight. Maine defeated the Eagles, 4-1, at Conte Forum.
Entering the contest, the Black Bears sported the least effective offense in Hockey East, managing over two fewer goals per game than the Eagles, but it was Maine that looked like the superior team. Boston College had many opportunities to score themselves, outshooting Maine 35-31 for the game, but with some good goaltending and bad BC luck, the visiting team was able to stop 34 of them. Meanwhile, the home team allowed Maine to score four times, which was the most Maine had netted in a single game in nearly a month.
Defensive breakdowns led to the first two goals for Maine in the opening period: Joey Diamond (unassisted) at 3:11 and Ryan Lomberg (assists Norman, Shore) at 19:40. The Black Bears outshot BC 13-6 in the forgettable first for the Eagles. Boston College looked more able in the second period, sending the puck to goalie Martin Ouellette 20 times in that frame, but again, there were no scores except for Maine. Will Merchant connected for his second goal of the season (assisted by Swavely) at 8:05 to give Maine a 3-0 lead and seemingly put the game out of reach from the frustrated BC offense.
The Eagles got on the board in the third thanks to a power play goal by Steven Whitney (assists Hayes, Mullane) at 13:06, but Maine got it back on an empty-netter by Kyle Beattie with 49 seconds to go.
Slump or not, this is an embarrassing defeat for Boston College. The last place in the conference team went onto the home ice of the #3 team in the nation and scored a decisive victory. Does the injured Mike Matheson make that big of a difference if he plays? Doubtful. One thing is clear, however: BC is not done with its up-and-down January, which is how its Januaries have usually been.
For the sake of perspective for Boston College supporters, it is not time to worry yet, but this is one to forget. The wild inconsistency of this past month — and even further, if one considers the tie in Providence to have been the start — is making for practically unbearable hockey now, but there is always the chance of improvement as February approaches.
The Eagles will face Maine again on Saturday night at 7pm as they attempt to avoid the sweep.