BOSTON - Shots came at goalie Jimmy Howard from left and right, far and near, and he never lost his cool under the barrage.
That's why Maine beat Boston College 2-1 Thursday night for a berth in the NCAA hockey championship.
"Jimmy's got exceptional concentration," Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. "He appears to be the most composed guy in those scramble situations."
The Black Bears (33-7-3) face Denver (26-12-5) in Saturday night's championship. The Pioneers beat Minnesota Duluth 5-3 in the early game, scoring the last four goals in the third period.
That is not likely to happen against Howard, who led the nation with a 1.20 goals-against average. Howard stopped 40 shots, including two when BC had a two-man advantage for 1:25 in the second period. After Dustin Penner gave the Black Bears a 2-1 lead with his 11th goal of the season 1:05 into the third, the stingiest defense in the nation got tighter.
Howard faced one weak shot in the last seven minutes, BC's 41st of the game.
In the other semifinal, Lukas Dora scored with 11:35 left to give Denver a 4-3 lead, and Greg Keith added the clincher with 7.8 seconds to play.
Adam Berkhoel stopped 26 shots - none bigger than when he turned Hobey Baker finalist Junior Lessard away in the final minute of the second period.
Denver has won five NCAA championships, the last in 1969. Maine has been in four finals, winning in 1993 and 1999.
AUBURN: Jeff Lebo, a former North Carolina star, resigned at Chattanooga to coach a program facing possible NCAA sanctions and that has missed the postseason two of the past three years. Auburn gave Lebo a seven-year deal worth about $750,000 annually with buyout clauses for both sides, according to interim president Ed Richardson.
Auburn awaits a verdict from the NCAA on allegations of recruiting violations under Cliff Ellis, who was fired March 18 and not identified in the allegations. Lebo took over Chattanooga without a returning starter two years ago and led the Mocs to a 21-9 record in 2002-03. Chattanooga went 19-11 last season.
BAYLOR: Forward Harvey Thomas will forgo his senior season and declare for the NBA draft. Thomas, a 6-foot-8 transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, averaged 15.6 points and 5.5 rebounds last season.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: Coach Matt Painter resigned to take an assistant coaching position at Purdue with the expectation he will succeed Boilermakers coach Gene Keady after next season. Painter, a former guard for the Boilermakers, guided the Salukis to a 25-5 record and an NCAA Tournament berth.
UCONN: Students who vandalized property and set fires during the rowdy celebrations that followed the Huskies' victories in both national championship games face suspensions and possible expulsion, the school's dean of students, John Saddlemire, said. The university is using police reports, news photos and pictures posted on student Web sites to identify those who violated the school's code of conduct.
BASEBALL: South Florida catcher Devin Ivany was named to the watch list for the Golden Spikes Award, which is given by USA Baseball to the nation's top amateur player. Ivany, a junior, is batting .392 with 36 RBIs in 30 games.
FOOTBALL: Mississippi fullback Rick Razzano was charged with aggravated assault related to an off-campus fight. Razzano, 23, was booked into the Lafayette County Detention Center and released on $2,500 bond, according to jail and court documents. Razzano's arrest came three days after he was involved in a brawl outside an Oxford bar that involved 10 people and left one man hospitalized, police said. Coach David Cutcliffe said in a statement Razzano will be disciplined and put on probation.
SOFTBALL: Rollins (37-11, 13-2) swept visiting Saint Leo (30-18, 5-10) 4-0 and 2-0 to tie Florida Southern for first place in the Sunshine State Conference. Rollins also set a school record for wins.
- Staff writer Pete Young contributed to this report.