By: Dan McLoone
The Northeastern hockey team fought for a hard-earned point in Hockey East play on Friday night, skating to a 4-4 tie with Boston University. Without their top two scoring options in John and Nolan Stevens, the Huskies clawed their way back from a one-goal deficit on three separate occasions, culminating in Zach Aston-Reese’s goal with under a minute to play to force overtime.
“I told our kids I liked our effort,” said head coach Jim Madigan. “I thought we were resilient and we worked hard particularly through that third period battling back. They’re a good hockey club.”
Northeastern drew first blood, as Garret Cockerill punched home a shot from the slot during a 5-on-3 power play seven minutes into the game. The Terriers got it right back just 17 seconds later, as Clayton Keller pounced on an errant pass from Eric Williams and beat netminder Ryan Ruck one-on-one to tie the game up with a shorthanded goal.
BU took a 2-1 lead with 2:38 left in the first period, scooping up the rebound from a shot that Ruck couldn’t cover up. Cycling the puck back to the blue line, the Terriers fired a shot from the blue line that freshman Patrick Curry tipped home for his first collegiate goal.
The Huskies came out firing after a scoreless second period as Adam Gaudette netted his sixth goal of the year, firing a shot over Jake Oettinger’s right shoulder on the power play to tie the game up at two just 2:22 into the third period. The teams exchanged opportunities until Jordan Greenway managed to tip home a Dante Fabbro shot to give the Terriers a 3-2 lead with 11 minutes left to go. Greenway was called for a 10-minute misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct while celebrating the goal and wound up spending all but the last minute of the game in the penalty box, matching the 10-minute misconduct that Aston-Reese took earlier in the period. Aston-Reese was just one of the nine penalties that the Huskies took on the night.
“We didn’t play smart enough out here tonight and it took away some momentum for us,” said Madigan. “We’re already short a couple of key players on the team, so when some of our top players are sitting in the box it only further complicates things for us.”
Once again, the Huskies stormed back, as Dylan Sikura potted his third goal of the season, beating Oettinger top left once again to tie the game at three with 7:45 left to play. The Terriers reclaimed the lead with 4:16 to go, as Keller netted a power play goal for his second tally of the day.
With time winding down and the Huskies scrambling for the tying goal, Madigan pulled Ruck. With an extra skater and an empty net, the Huskies were able to control the puck in their offensive zone for some great looks. The eventually broke through with 55 seconds to go, as Aston-Reese atoned for his the 12 minutes that he spent in the penalty box during the period by sneaking one past Oettinger to send the game into overtime.
“We knew it was going to be a battle the whole game,” said Gaudette. “We fell behind but we didn’t get discouraged. We just stuck to our game plan, we just kept battling and grinding it out. We knew we had to get pucks deep and get pucks on net and that’s what we did and it ended up working out, battling back.”
The Huskies controlled the pace of play in overtime. Ruck didn’t have to make a save, while Northeastern’s attack drew a penalty and fired five shots on Oettinger during the extra five minutes. The freshman netminder stood tall to preserve the tie.
“It was a point,” said Madigan. “I’m sure BU is looking at it the same way. There’s an opportunity for one of us to get a three point weekend and that’s how we’re approaching going into tomorrow night.”
Northeastern and Boston University will square off again on Saturday night at Agganis Arena, with puck drop slated for 7 p.m. Full coverage of the game will be provided by WRBB.