By: Joshua Brown
BOSTON- Up 3-1 entering the third period, things were looking up for Northeastern.
Despite coming into the game without a conference win to date, the Huskies played Umass Lowell to the bitter end in an overtime loss up in Belfast, before tying the Eagles Saturday night at Boston College.
But then something clicked for the Eagles, who through the first two periods had relatively little luck penetrating through the Huskies defense. Getting two goals less than a minute apart to open the period, and one at the 8:52 mark, Boston College was able to stay unbeaten in league play, defeating the Huskies 4-3.
Thatcher Demko, who certainly did not have his best game of the year for the Eagles (13-1-1, 6-0-1), stopped 22 of 25 shots he faced, while Ryan Ruck turned away 26 of 30 for Northeastern (2-12-3,0-8-3).
Northeastern continued to play without forwards Kevin Roy and Dalen Hedges. John Stevens was also out of the lineup Sunday afternoon after suffering a lower-body injury against the Eagles in the second period of Saturday’s matchup.
“I was impressed with (Northeastern’s) team,” said Boston College coach Jerry York, who picked up his 997th career victory. “When Roy and Hedges get back, and Stevens didn’t play today, they’re going to be a formidable team as the season progresses. Having said that, it’s a significant three out of four points for us for the weekend. I thought we played a lot better in today’s game then we did on Saturday night’s game.”
Northeastern came out as the aggressor early on, getting two goals in the first 13 minutes, both by freshman defenseman Eric Williams.
Collecting a Mike McMurtry faceoff win, Williams skated towards the net and put a wrist shot on net that beat the screened Demko to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead just 6:35 into the game.
Less than six minutes later on the power play Colton Saucerman, who was playing along the goal line, found Williams on the weak side, threaded a pass through traffic, and ultimately the freshman was able to snap it home to put the Huskies up 2-0 heading into the break.
“He’s got tremendous offensive stick skills,” said Northeastern University coach Jim Madigan.” “He can shoot a puck as well as anyone in this league, and you saw a couple of shots there tonight.”
“We’ve got some pretty good defenseman back there with Benning and Saucerman and Cockerill so he might not have seen some of the offensive opportunities (early on in the season), but he’ll get more and more playing time that way. With those young defensemen you’re just worried about defending first and taking care of your own zone which he’s gotten a lot better at.”
Both teams picked up the pace in the second period, turning the first ten minutes of the frame into a quasi track meet, with the tempo being elevated on both sides.
Ryan Fitzgerald was the first one to light the lamp in the middle frame, beating Ruck shorthanded with Steve Santini in the box for cross-checking.
Creating a turnover in the neutral zone, Fitzgerald took the puck all on his own and beat Ruck over the shoulder to bring the Eagles within one.
“It was kind of just a loose puck we chased down,” said Fitzgerald, “and ended up getting a fortunate bounce and I kind of just tried to put it on net and luckily it went in.”
Northeastern showed some resolve though, answering with a goal of their own 1:18 after the Fitzgerald strike courtesy of Zach Aston-Reese.
On the power play Dylan Sikura found Nolan Stevens with some room in the slot. Stevens quickly took the pass and dished it over to Aston-Reese, who was positioned to the left of Demko, and the junior was able to jam it by the goalie to give Northeastern a 3-1 lead.
“I liked the way we played for the first two periods,” said Madigan, “and our kids battled hard and we were able to get a couple goals on the power play, got the power play worked out, moved the puck really well, got some chances.”
The Eagles came out firing in the third period, scoring two goals in the first 3:22 of the final frame. A big key for York’s squad was staying out of the penalty box.
Following a five-penalty third period on Saturday night, the Eagles managed to stay out of the box, using the teams raw speed five-on-five to their advantage.
“It’s certainly something we’re trying to get better at,” said York. “Whether it’s forechecking or defensive coverage or taking penalties, especially since the Huskies have an excellent power play. They created some terrific chances and scored two power play goals so they were dangerous, so it was good to stay off the 4-on-5 situations late in the game.”
The Eagles got the scoring going in the third via Josh Couturier, a former Northeastern commit turned Eagle.
Taking a feed from Scott Savage, Courturier unleashed a one-timer from the point that beat Ruck cleanly, bringing his team within one.
“In the third period we were looking for something to ignite us,” said York, “and Josh’s goal there…that was certainly a key to getting us back in the game.”
Just 52 seconds later Alex Tuch took a pass from Zach Sanford in the neutral zone bringing it all the way down ice and wrapping it around Ruck for the equalizer.
The Eagles continued to pounce from there, taking advantage of a deflated Northeastern squad, and at the 8:52 mark scored the game winner.
Positioned between the hashmarks, Matthew Gaudreau was able to redirect a Scott Savage shot from the point by Ruck, giving his Eagles the lead and ultimately the win, after Northeastern struggled to get any sustained offense from that point forward.
“In that third period Boston College just had a lot more legs then we did and they came at us,” said Madigan. “(They) attacked us and our short bench showed up in that third and we shortened the bench just because of the personnel that was available to us, and they attacked and they’ve got some real good offensive weapons, and we knew they would make a big push and we just didn’t have a push ourselves really at all.”
“We had some other chances also, but usually if you can get three in this league, particularly if you can get three on the goalie that we were playing against like last night, you’re hoping you can come away with points and disappointing we gave up three in the third. We’ve been really good in the second and third period this year and so its disappointing that that happened in the third.”
This article can also be found on USCHO.