By: Joshua Brown
CHESNUT HILL, Mass.- Fresh off an appearance in the Friendship Four, the Huskies had to shake off any remaining jet lag, getting right back to the grindstone, facing off with #2 Boston College Saturday night.
And it seems like Northeastern did just that as the game wore on, getting a late third period goal by Nolan Stevens, sending the Huskies home with a point and a 3-3 tie.
Playing down around the crease, Stevens picked up a rebound off an Eric Williams shot and was able to will it past Demko to send the game to overtime with just 2:14 left to go in the third.
“I liked the way we battled all night long,” said Huskies coach Jim Madigan. “We were down 2-0 to BC and they had some real good puck movement, and they’re really fast in transitioning pucks quickly, and they’re really fast through the neutral zone. And it got us on our heels a little bit, but I just liked the way we stayed with it and our mindset was really good.”
Northeastern (2-11-3, 0-7-3) got yet another firsthand look at old foe Thatcher Demko, who in the midst of a historic season put up another solid outing, stopping 33 of 36 shots in the tie. Freshman goalie Ryan Ruck made 23 saves on 26 shots fired his way.
“The only reason we got one point out of the game tonight was Thatcher’s play,” said Boston College coach Jerry York.” “He was outstanding. I thought Northeastern was quicker, smarter, more disciplined then our team and Thatcher just made some incredible incredible saves.”
The Eagles (12-1-1, 5-0-1) wasted no time getting on the board, as Northeastern yet again surrendered the first goal of the game, a trend that was briefly stagnated in the teams 7-1 win over Colgate in Belfast.
Just 4:26 into the opening frame Miles Wood capitalized on a loose puck in the high slot, collecting it on his stick and beating a sea of traffic, including Ruck, to give the Eagles the early lead.
Less than five minutes later the Eagles tacked on one more courtesy of Alex Tuch.
Bringing the puck through the neutral zone, the sophomore turned on his jets racing into the slot, beating two Huskies defenders, and ultimately getting the best of Ruck.
“We just can’t give a team like BC with that speed that open ice behind us. I thought Ryan Ruck stood tall…we’ll have to get better there tomorrow night in that area.”
The Huskies would not roll over though, responding with a strike of their own 31 seconds later via a familiar face, Nolan Stevens.
“We didn’t panic even though we were down 2-0 and we fought back to make it 2-1,” said Madigan. “We don’t want to get into a situation with this club where you’re exchanging scoring chances, so we still wanted to make sure we were defending well at our net and be patient and then get our own opportunities as they came about.”
Taking a pass from Zach Aston-Reese along the right side of the ice, Stevens made a move to the net and backhanded a shot that beat stonewall Demko to bring Northeastern within one.
With a delayed penalty in tact, Northeastern had a golden opportunity to tie it at two.
Moving the puck well while trying to avoid a Boston College touch-up, Zach Aston-Reese got the puck from just within the left faceoff circle with a wide open net, but could not get the shot off, resulting in a power play that ultimately went to waste.
The second period opened up with the Eagles peppering Ruck with shots, but the freshman stood tall for each and every one.
The scariest moment for Huskies fans was a Ryan Fitzgerald waved off goal with 11:34 left in the period. Burning by a Huskies defender, Fitzgerald pummeled into Ruck just as he released a shot that beat the netminder, but the goal was ultimately disallowed.
Northeastern went on a five-minute major late in the period due to a Miles Wood cross-checking, and unlike the team’s two previous opportunities this season, were able to get a couple shots on net, but none beat Demko, sending the Eagles to the locker room with a 2-1 lead.
The Huskies did catch a bad break though in the second with the loss of John Stevens, who went down with a lower-body injury and will be reevaluated back on campus, per Coach Madigan.
The Eagles nearly let Northeastern back into the game in the opening minutes of the third, taking back-to-back penalties, but the Huskies were not able to light the lamp.
Northeastern was able to avenge the missed opportunities just minutes later though, as Lincoln Griffin tipped a Matt Benning shot past Demko with 11:28 left to go, his first collegiate goal, tying the game at two.
From there, undicsiplined play haunted the Eagles in the third, with the team racking up five penalties (eight total in the game as opposed to just one for Northeastern), but Demko continued to rally his team, stopping everything fired his way.
“We took to many penalties no question,” said York.” “(Northeastern’s) play produced penalties. They played quick and fast.”
The Eagles even managed to get one shorthanded, when Colin White stole the puck along the blue line, giving him a breakaway all alone, which the freshman capitalized on to give his team the lead midway through the frame.
“They’re so good on the (penalty kill) and they pressure you and they leave the zone,” said Madigan, “they fly the zone early and we gave up a breakaway to White whose really good in tight.”
While the Eagles continued to kill penalties late in the third, it was even strength where Northeastern was able to get the tying goal, courtesy of Stevens.
In overtime, Northeastern carried the play, out shooting the Eagles 5-1, but Demko yet again kept the Eagles without a loss in league play.
“It’s not a win, and that’s what we’re measured by,” said Coach Madigan, “but we’re also measured by points in this league. This was a good tie.”