Abbott Injured in Maine's Win
Status of Nation's Leading Scorer Doubtful for Title Game
by Joe Meloni/CHN Staff Writer
BOSTON Hockey East Player of the Year and Hobey Baker finalist Spencer Abbott suffered an undisclosed injury in the third period of Maine's 5-3 win over Boston University in a Hockey East semifinal. His status for Saturday's Hockey East championship game against Boston College is uncertain after the winger left the game early in third period with the game tied, 3-3.
Abbott chased a puck into the corner to the right of the Boston University net. Terrier defenseman Sean Escobedo pursued Abbott and looked to finish a check, when Abbott lost his footing. Escobedo's forearm struck Abbott in the head as he hit the ice, and his left ankle appeared to jam as he hit the boards.
Abbott did not return following the hit, and Maine coach Tim Whitehead did not say whether or not he would be available on Friday. Maine captain Will O'Neill, who scored twice in the win, admitted it will be difficult to replace Abbott, but he has confidence in his teammates.
"He is a tremendous player, he is one of the top players in the league," O'Neill said. "He is on a great line with Flynn and Joey [Diamond] and when a guy goes down like that everybodyʼs got to step up and that is what we did. No matter who it is everybody tries to regroup and feed off as much as we can."
With 20 goals and 41 assists for 61 points, Abbott leads the nation in scoring — he assisted on two Maine goals before his injury om Friday. As part of the Black Bears' top line along with center Brian Flynn and winger Joey Diamond, Abbott led Maine to the No. 4 seed in the Hockey East tournament and a likely berth in the NCAA tournament.
When Abbott went down, play continued and BU sophomore Matt Nieto scored shortly after, tying the game, 3-3, at that point.
"Again, just not getting too high or too low. It was obviously a key moment, a potential turning point. It was somewhat of a turning point," Whitehead said. "It could have a pivotal point for them (BU) if they kept the momentum going."
With Abbott sidelined, Whitehead rolled his left wingers to success, as sophomore Mark Anthoine scored the game-winning goal at 7 minutes, 43 seconds of the third period.
While Whitehead did not rule Abbott out of Saturday's game, the impact of the hit, paired with the senior being helped off the ice by two teammates, suggests his status is doubtful. In terms of the the legality of Escobedo's hit, no penalty was called, but Whitehead was noticeably frustrated after the game, saying that it was an elbow to the head. After his initial statement, he spotted Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna and reiterated his opinion directly to him.
Should Abbott miss the game, Whitehead will likely move Anthoine to the first line next to Flynn and Diamond. Anthoine has become a consistent secondary scoring option for the Black Bears in his second season with the program. His 12 goals are fourth on the club, behind the top line and Matt Mangene. Though, Diamond, being a left shot, could shift to Flynn's left, allowing another player to move to the right side.