A Notable Absence
Maine Falls in Hockey East Championship Without Abbott
by Joshua Seguin/CHN Writer
BOSTON Maine came into the Hockey East championship game Saturday night short one of the nation's best players in Spencer Abbott. Maine's top line of Abbott, Brian Flynn and Joey Diamond has been together for most of the season. But, without its star left wing, the line, and Maine as a whole, was not able to put together a sustained offensive charge.
"Spencer's injury hurts a bit for us," said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “Obviously stuff like this is going to happen to a team. The good thing about the situation is that I felt our players responded well."
"Spencer is the top scorer in the country, and it's going to take its toll on us,” said Maine forward Joey Diamond. "He is good for a point or two a game, but we are making no excuses for him being out of the lineup. It's a team game, and we gave away the first 20 minutes. To a great team like (Boston College), you can't give a period away."
The first period did not generate effort that Maine was looking for, as the Eagles raced off to a 2-0 lead. Along with being outscored in the first period, the Black Bears fell short.
Maine needed an effort from some of its key players in the lineup, which it did not receive. Bryan Flynn scored the lone goal for the Black Bears midway through the second period to make it a 2-1 game, but Maine never capitalized on the momentum from the goal. Boston College would eventually score a goal late in the second period to extend its lead to two.
It wasn't just the first line that struggled for Maine — it was most of the lineup. Will O'Neill had a strong game Friday night, scoring two goals and assisting on another, but he was a nonfactor in the Maine offensive attack Saturday. Joey Diamond, who has 25 goals on the season, was kept off the score sheet, and Mark Anthoine, who had a key goal on Friday night, was another player who didn't get it going.
"We didn’t have other lines generating a lot of chances for us tonight," said Whitehead. "We just didn't capitalize on our chances early, which we needed to."
Matt Mangene stepped into Abbott’s role on the top line.
"Matt did a great job on our line," said Diamond. "He knew exactly what was going to happen and he competes hard. We aren't making any excuses for ourselves. They are a great team, and we will see what happens in the next game."
An offense ranked near the top of the Hockey East in scoring struggled to get bodies in front of the net and find a cohesion that was necessary to score.
"It was disappointing to get all the way here and come up short," said Whitehead. "We got out of the gate a little tentative. I felt we had some real good moments in the second and some chances in the third. We were just a schmidgen off tonight."
"We came out hard the first couple of minutes," said Diamond. "I think we got a little tentative in the Garden given the team and the environment. We felt we came out and competed hard."
Coming into Saturday night, Abbott had amassed 61 points in 38 games. His line had accounted for 62 of the 131 Maine goals this season.
"I felt that we adjusted well to Abbott missing on our first line," said O'Neill. "As it got later I felt that we did a better job but we will need to bounce back next weekend."
This line has brought Maine back into the national picture, where it will make their its appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2007. Where they will be or who they are facing is yet to be announced officially.
Going forward, the status of Abbott remains unclear. His presence in the lineup is certainly one that Maine would love to have, but, if he can’t go, Maine has players that should be able to step into his role.
"It is day by day with Spencer," said Whitehead. "I think this was a good experience for our team, especially if he is not back next weekend. Learning to play without him, if he isn't back by next weekend, was good for us. We are hoping that he is back."