BOSTON -- It was a "Tale of Two Cities" this weekend for Boston College. The Eagles celebrated their home opener and the raising of the team's 4th national championship banner at Conte Forum with a tough 3-2 win over Merrimack on Friday, but lost an equally bruising affair Saturday, 4-2, on the Warriors' home ice in Andover.
On Friday, the Eagles (4-2-0) may have benefited not only from a raucous home crowd, but the presence of former champs Len Ceglarksi (1949), Bobby Allen (2001) and Kyle Kucharski (2008), who helped raise the team's 2010 NCAA championship banner. Clearly, Saturday night there were no benevolent spirits in the rafters of Merrimack's Lawler Arena, and few among the sellout crowd of 2,772.
Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy praised his squad after Friday's loss for playing courageously while trying to kill 13 penalties, and on Saturday the Warriors were much more disciplined, cutting their penalty total in half. Merrimack's Jesse Todd opened the scoring with his first goal of the season at 4:14 of the first period.
BC's Brian Gibbons knotted the score with a power play tally at the 9:50 mark, but Warrior Brendan Ellis countered five minutes later to give the Warriors a 2-1 edge going into the second period.
Warrior Joe Cucci (two points on the night) got the eventual game winner at 2:36 of the second period, off a feed from Stephane Da Costa, but BC's Cam Atkinson made it a game with an even-strength goal 20 minutes later. Merrimack's Ryan Flanigan (two goals on the weekend) added an insurance tally seven minutes later, and Warrior goalie Joe Cannata (31 saves) protected the lead over the final 10 minutes. BC goalie Parker Milner finished with 28 saves.
On Friday, BC coach Jerry York called the Eagles victory a "gritty win," adding that any time Hockey East teams meet, "two points are hard to get, so we’re excited about getting two points on Banner Night."
No doubt Dennehy felt the same way after his Warriors (2-1-2) earned the weekend split.
Boston University 2, at UMass-Lowell 1
The River Hawks (1-3-2) proved much more tenacious away from home, keeping the 5th-ranked BU Terriers on the ropes before dropping a heartbreaking 2-1 decision. After spanking the River Hawks at UMass-Lowell's Tsongas Arena on Friday, 5-1, the Terriers (6-0-1) surrendered the opening goal during Saturday's rematch at Agganis Arena when Joseph Pendenza potted his third goal of the season at 9:33 of the third period.
However, Jack Parker's troops regrouped, and tied the game on Alex Chiasson's third strike of the season at 16:17, setting up late-game heroics by BU captain Chris Connolly. With only 28 ticks left on the clock, Connolly buried the game-winner past UMass-Lowell's Doug Carr (28 saves).
BU defenseman David Warsofsky capped a two-point night with assists on both Terrier goals, and goalie Grant Rollheiser finished with 24 saves for his second win of the season.
Providence 3, UMass-Amherst 2
Home-cooking is obviously just what the hockey gods had in mind for the Providence Friars, who recorded their first win since their home-opener back on Oct. 8, when they slipped past Northeastern, 3-2.
Saturday night, the Friars toppled the UMass Minutemen by the same score, collecting three out of a possible four points during the home-and-home series (the two teams tied, 3-3, Friday night in Amherst).
Providence jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Kyle McKinnon and Aaron Janick, but Minuteman Joel Hanley cut the deficit to 2-1 with a power play goal at the 16:48 mark of the first. After a scoreless second period, Providence's Ian O'Connor tallied the eventual game-winner at 9:18 of the final stanza.
UMass freshman Michael Pereira cut the Friars' lead to one with his third goal of the season at 12:47, but it was the last puck that would get behind Providence goalie Alex Beaudry (32 saves).
Bentley 2, at Northeastern 1
It was a lost weekend for the Huntington Hounds (1-4-2), who failed to capitalize on any momentum that their first win of the season last Saturday might have provided. Instead, Greg Cronin's squad dropped a pair of one-goal decisions to Atlantic Hockey foes, as Bentley (1-3-1) left Matthews Arena with a 2-1 victory on Saturday.
The two teams skated through two scoreless periods, despite both squads having opportunities, with Bentley outgunning the Huskies 29 shots to 25. Northeastern's Mike McLaughlin broke the ice with his third goal of the season, a power play strike at 6:25 of the final stanza.
Ninety seconds later, Erik Peterson knotted the game for Bentley, and Brett Gensler got the game-winner at the 10:42 mark.
Bentley goalie Joe Calvi recorded 29 saves for his first win of the season, while Northeastern's Clay Witt stopped 32 shots in a losing effort.
Maine 3, at Vermont 2 (overtime)
The Blacks Bears (4-1-2) continue their hot hand following their two-game sweep over North Dakota last weekend by squeezing out an overtime victory against the Catamounts before 4,007 at Vermont's Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Maine's Spencer Abbott broke the 2-2 stalemate with his overtime strike at 2:16 of the extra period, keeping Vermont (0-2-2) winless so far this season.
The Catamounts twice battled back from one-goal deficits, on tallies by Wahsontiio Stacey in the second and Jack Downing in the third. However, they had no answer for Abbott, or superb junior playmaker Gustav Nyquist, who finished a three-point evening by assisting on each Black Bear goal.
Vermont goalie Rob Madore (39 saves) was immense despite absorbing the loss, while Maine's Dan Sullivan recorded 23 saves en route to collecting his second win of the season.