Kudos to the Maine Black Bears.
On an extremely cold weekend in Chestnut Hill, MA, the Black Bears accomplished something that very few teams – if any at all – can say they have done: come into Kelly Rink and beat the Eagles twice in one weekend, 4-1 on Jan. 25, and 3-1 the following day.
Maine, who improved to 7-14-4 on the season, took advantage of a sloppy Eagles team that, though riddled with injuries on the back line, was highly favored to win both games this weekend.
BC’s woes were especially apparent in Saturday’s game, which they lost by a score of 3-1, when only three of the original six defensemen to start the year dressed for the game. Senior Patch Alber (out for season), freshmen Michael Matheson (concussion symptoms) and Colin Sullivan (unknown) were not on the ice for BC, forcing Jerry York to drop back forward Brooks Dyroff on Friday as well as winger Steven Whitney on Saturday.
As a result of the shuffling of the lineup, all of the forward lines – with the exception of the Hayes, Arnold and Straight line – were different for this weekend. It does not bode well for success if half of your players need to create chemistry with completely different line mates. While BC’s raw talent was able to limit Maine’s scoring chances through the first two periods of both games, yet the lack of comfort among the forward lines was evident.
Friday’s loss was the more perplexing of the two, with the first three forward lines intact, three full defensive pairings playing and Parker Milner in net. Joey Diamond and an aggressive Maine forecheck resulted in a 1-0 lead in the first period. BC was getting some chances, but Whitney was the only Eagle able to get anything past Black Bears goalie Martin Ouellette, a draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Saturday’s game featured an entirely different BC front twelve. Danny Linell moved up to the first line to play with Johnny Gaudreau and Pat Mullane, while Steven Whitney relieved Brooks Dyroff of his defensive duties.
Quinn Smith slid up to Linell’s place on the third line and Cam Spiro dressed to play alongside Michael Sit and Dyroff on the fourth combination. Brian Billett was also in goal, allowing Milner a respite, and played well considering the makeshift lineup in front of him.
With Matheson and Sullivan out for the time being, that leaves Patrick Wey, Teddy Doherty, Isaac MacLeod, and Travis Jeke as the only healthy defensemen for York’s Eagles. These four began to show the effects of logging high volume minutes by the third period. Whitney – for what it’s worth – should not be wasting his offensive prowess by sitting back on the blue line.
York could dress forward Peter McMullen (a healthy scratch all season), dropping Brooks Dyroff and perhaps one other forward back to defense and pair them with upperclassmen Wey and MacLeod for insurance. This would give the Eagles three full D pairings, and based on the Eagles’ performances this weekend, a more fluid breakout is needed for offensive success. Mobile forwards on the back line could do the trick.