BOSTON — After Joey Diamond of the University of Maine forced overtime, Matt Lombardi of Boston College ended the game Saturday night.

He also ended the Black Bears’ season.

Lombardi’s goal at 5:25 of overtime gave Boston College a 7-6 victory at TD Garden, giving the Eagles the Hockey East championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

Maine’s only chance of reaching the NCAAs was to win.

And it came close, three times cutting BC’s two-goal lead to one, including Spencer Abbott’s goal with 5:01 left in the third period that made it 6-5.

After Maine took its timeout with 30.6 seconds remaining, Diamond’s goal with 27.3 seconds left sent it to overtime.

“We always found a way to come back,” said Diamond, a freshman who scored two goals in the final. “We kept our cool, and we knew (after) Abbott put one in, we could get another one.”

But the Black Bears (19-17-3), ranked 19th nationally, couldn’t get that final, decisive goal.

Lombardi, a senior right wing, won the game by trickling the puck past Maine goalie Dave Wilson (27 saves), giving the Eagles their ninth Hockey East championship, a league record.

“We got the puck in and Matt Price chipped it low,” Lombardi said. “I grabbed it and stuffed it low, and it kind of trickled in.”

The 16-team NCAA tournament field and pairings will be announced at 11:30 a.m. today.

Maine, which made its first Hockey East championship game appearance since 2004, was 18th in the PairWise rankings, and Vermont and New Hampshire, both destined for the tournament, were in a four-way tie for 11th with Michigan and Alaska.

BC Coach Jerry York was astounded, not just with the outcome but how the game unfolded.

Maine was down 4-2 at 5:35 of the second period on the second of Lombardi’s three goals, then down 5-3 at 5:16 of the third on Jimmy Hayes’ goal.

But the Black Bears and fourth-ranked Eagles (25-10-3) combined for five goals in the final 12 minutes of regulation.

“You never know exactly what to expect, but tonight was full of surprises,” York said. “And sometimes the hero jumps out of obscurity to become the MVP, the difference maker.”

But in the time before Lombardi won it, the Black Bears matched the Eagles just about goal for goal.

In a game in which Maine never led, the Black Bears answered Carl Sneep’s opening goal at 11:44 of the first with Gustav Nyquist’s goal 24 seconds later.

The score was 2-2 going into the second, and Boston College led 4-3 entering the third.

Hayes extended BC’s lead to 5-3 early in the third before the teams combined for five goals, including Diamond’s goal with 27.3 seconds left.

“That’s a good sign for any team, that you can bounce back after a goal,” said Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said. “And there wasn’t any quit in our team.”

 

NOTES: Boston College defenseman Brian Dumoulin, a Biddeford High graduate, had two assists for the Eagles. Maine defenseman Will O’Neill, right wing Nyquist and Diamond all were named to the Hockey East all-tournament team.

 

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

[email protected]