ORONO — Is it too early to speak of an Alfond Arena aura?
The Maine men’s hockey team had won five of the six games in its building this season, but Saturday night brought the biggest test – and the biggest crowd –yet.
Boston College swaggered in with the nation’s most potent offense and a No. 7 ranking. The Eagles staggered out with their ears ringing and their spirits sagging, the victims of a 5-1 shellacking at the hands of the Black Bears.
Maine blitzed the Eagles with three first-period goals to get the first sellout crowd of the season – announced at 5,125 – roaring with delight.
Goaltender Martin Ouellette made sure Boston College never fully recovered, stopping 33 shots.
“That can change the course of a game, good or bad, especially at home with the crowd,” Maine center Devin Shore said after unleashing the onslaught with a goal 37 seconds into the contest.
“It doesn’t win the game for you but it deflates their bench, it inflates ours. And it’s what you do next, but it’s a big boost when you can get a goal that early in the game.”
What Maine did next was keep the pressure on.
Sophomore Ben Hutton backhanded home a goal 4:16 into the first period, Ryan Lomberg added another and Ouellette kept his calm against a team averaging 4.5 goals per game entering play.
Boston College scored late in the first period when Scott Savage got free in the slot. But Shore and Hutton each scored again and Maine ran its record to 6-4-1 overall, 3-2-1 in Hockey East play.
“They had those shifts where they’d be in our zone for a minute 30 (seconds) or 2 minutes, but they didn’t get much,” Ouellette said
“They didn’t get second and third chances.”
Deadpanned Maine Coach Red Gendron: “I’m not going to apologize that Martin Ouellette is on our team; I’m pretty happy about it.”
Maine scorched Boston University 7-0 at Alfond a week ago, then handed the Eagles (8-3-2, 4-1-1) their first loss in league play.
But life on the road has been eye-opening for a young Black Bears squad that has yet to win away from its cozy rink.
“Good teams win at home and that’s what we’re striving to do,” Shore said after a three-point night, all coming at even strength. “We want to be a good team. We’re not there yet but we’re making steps in the right direction, and we’re just glad to get wins for that crowd because they deserved it.
“We want to be a team that plays hard and fast regardless of what building we’re playing in. We’re confident in our dressing room that we can control the outcome of a game no matter where we’re playing.”
Their next chance to prove that comes Friday and Saturday at Vermont.
After Saturday, there’s little left for Maine to prove at home.
Mark Emmert can be reached at 791-6424 or at: