BOSTON — The opponent didn’t intimidate them.

The big-time surroundings didn’t overwhelm them.

Instead, the University of Maine hockey team showed up, drank in the atmosphere before the game, then held on to defeat its opponent.

The 19th-ranked Black Bears scored a pair of first-period goals and survived a late rally to defeat No. 20 Boston University 5-2 in a Hockey East semifinal at TD Garden.

“We talked about it before the game and they have great defensive players who love to step into the offense,” Maine right wing Gustav Nyquist said. “That was kind of the key to our game plan, to just get the puck deep and forecheck hard, and we did that. I feel like we came out fine and we had a lot of good shifts down low and it paid off.”

The Black Bears earned a spot in the Hockey East final for the first time since 2004 and ended Boston University’s reign as national champion.

“We’re just excited to advance,” Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said. “Obviously it was a hard-fought game and the score doesn’t reflect the tightness there.

“We’re really pleased to extend our season at least one more day. It’s going to be a great challenge, but we’re excited about it.”

Maine (19-16-3) will face fourth-ranked Boston College at 7 p.m. tonight for the league title and an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. The Eagles (24-10-3) advanced with a 3-0 win over No. 14 Vermont.

Boston College is already assured of an NCAA tournament berth, but Maine needs a win tonight to make the 16-team field.

“We had a team out there that played well and was on top of their game, very much so,” BU Coach Jack Parker said of the Black Bears.

“And (our team) was not ready. I was impressed by how hard and how quick and how smart Maine played. We were back on our heels all night, until the third period.”

Joey Diamond gave Maine a 1-0 lead at 14:14 of the first period when he cut in off the left wing and forced BU goalie Kieran Millan (32 saves) to come out of the goal crease. Millan reached to poke at the puck, but Diamond scooted past Millan and backhanded the puck into an open net.

“Joey got it and showed unbelievable poise,” Nyquist said. “He stick-handled it back and scored with his backhand. It was a really good goal and it gives the whole team a momentum boost when a guy like that scores a nice goal like that.”

With 1:14 left in the period, Brian Flynn’s shot from the point went through traffic and beat Millan for a 2-0 lead.

Maine killed off a five-on-three early in the second after Tanner House (interference) and Kevin Swallow (holding) took overlapping penalties.

Less than four minutes after the penalty to Swallow expired, Robby Dee gave Maine a 3-0 lead when he beat Millan with a wrist shot.
Kevin Shattenkirk ended Dave Wilson’s shutout bid less than two minutes into the third.

BU’s Vinny Saponari was awarded a goal after a lengthy review to make it 3-2 with 3:47left. Moments later, Wilson stopped Ross Gaudet on a short-handed breakaway.

David deKastrozza then scored an insurance goal, and Tanner House added an empty-netter.

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

[email protected]

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