The triumphant Terriers flung their sticks and gloves in the air. They had finally tossed away the stigma of the most lopsided loss in 33 years of NCAA championship hockey games.
Boston University won its first title in 17 years Saturday with a 6-2 win over Maine. This time, the Terriers didn't collapse."I didn't think anything could happen to us like it did last year," Boston U. coach Jack Parker said.
Last year, Lake Superior State led 1-0 after one period. Then the Terriers fell apart in an embarrassing 9-1 loss. On Saturday, they stayed cool when Maine cut the lead to 3-2 just 31 seconds into the third period.
Boston U. regained control when Mike Sylvia scored at 5:23.
"It was like somebody put a stake in your heart," Maine coach Shawn Walsh said of the goal.
The Black Bears, the 1993 champions, couldn't stop the flow. Boston U. pulled away for its fourth NCAA title and first since 1978, when it beat Boston College, also at Providence, in the last all-New England championship game.
"Last year's (title) game has been with all of us that were there, especially the seniors," Boston U. captain Jacques Joubert said. "Last year we had a great year, but I think we were just satisfied to get to the championship game."
When Bob Lachance's short-handed goal made the score 6-2 with 1:13 left Saturday, it was time to celebrate. The Terriers on the bench hugged and slapped backs.
And when the game ended, they leaped over the boards and sent their equipment flying as they rushed to embrace.
For Maine, it was a tough loss at the end of a surprisingly strong season.
The Black Bears lost only one game in 1992-93. Last season, they lost seven players to the Olympics and 14 games to forfeits for using ineligible players.
But they started this season with a 14-0-1 record and led Hockey East until Boston U. tied them in the final regular-season game.
"We've been chasing them all year," said Parker, whose team ended the season with 10 straight wins.
"My only disappointment is for the players," Walsh said. "They deserve (the title) but BU deserved it better today."
On Saturday, the Terriers could have caved in after Trevor Roenick's power-play goal made the score 3-2. Instead, they charged back with goals by Sylvia and Chris O'Sullivan, the tournament's most outstanding player, in the next eight minutes.
The Terriers' determination was evident when they beat Lake Superior State 6-2 in the NCAA quarterfinals. Then they beat Minnesota 7-3 in the semifinals after being tied 3-3 after two periods.
Maine, which had to battle for 100 minutes, 28 seconds, before beating Michigan 4-3 in a triple-overtime semifinal Thursday, lost its zip after the first 14 minutes Saturday.
"We were probably a little tired, but you can't make excuses," Maine defenseman Chris Imes said. "We just couldn't break out, especially on the power play. Special teams was a key."
The Terriers were 3 for 4 on power plays, while Maine was 1 for 8.
"We got every ounce of energy out of our petrol tanks," Walsh said. "It was just not enough. They were a better team. I think the shots on goal (39-23) indicate that."
Maine had outshot Boston U. 8-3 to that point. But over the next 19 minutes, the Terriers dominated 20-1.
The assault began with Steve Thornton's power-play goal at 14:57 when he won the faceoff to the left of goalie Blair Allison, controlled the puck and flipped it in the far side of the net for his 17th goal of the season.
The Terriers, who were 0-2-2 against Maine this season before Saturday, were confident facing Allison, who was brilliant against Michigan and has the nation's lowest goals-against average.
"All year, the fewest goals we had on him was three," Joubert said. "We weren't going to let a goalie beat us."
The Terriers' two second-period goals came after Maine failed to clear rebounds.
O'Sullivan's goal gave Boston U. a 2-0 lead and a 7-0 edge in shots for the period. Joubert's 29th goal on a power play made it 3-0 and stretched the shooting margin for the period to 18-1.
Maine got its first shot of the period at 12:57 when Tony Frenette fired the puck harmlessly from the top of the left circle right into the chest of freshman goalie Tom Noble.
The Black Bears' first shot that meant something came at 14:51 of the second period when Frenette's pass across the slot on a 2-on-1 break set up Tim Lovell's 23rd goal.