Kayla Shiao/WRBB Sports

BOSTON — Thrilling. Impressive. Dramatic. Insanity.

Even those four words can’t truly describe the third period on Friday between the Northeastern Huskies and Boston College Eagles. 

And that doesn’t cover overtime and the shootout. 

In the record books it will go down as a 4-4 draw between these bitter rivals, the second tie in as many contests between the two sides this season. But for the Huskies, this is a game that will stand out for a long time, thanks to their most remarkable showing of 2022-23 so far; a 4-1 comeback in the last ten minutes of regulation. 

In the first five minutes of the game, it seemed like Northeastern was going to play on the offensive. They mainly kept control of the puck, putting six shots on goal to the Eagles two. 

Right before the first goal of the game, BC graduate student goaltender Mitch Benson made a routine save on Northeastern’s freshman forward Jack Williams to stop play. Williams lost the puck on the ensuing faceoff, however it ended up behind Eagles freshman forward Cutter Gauthier, allowing Cam Lund to nab it. The freshman forward was waiting at the top of the blue paint, and wasted no time tapping the puck between Benson’s pads for the 1-0 tally. 

After that, it began to devolve for the home team. Senior defender Jeremie Bucheler took a slashing penalty 6:20 into the game, putting BC on the power play for the first time. 

In the first minute of the kill, the Huskies did a solid job keeping the puck out of their own zone. Although it didn’t take long before the Eagles set up the cycle. Junior forward Trevor Kuntar’s shot from between the faceoff circles bounced off Northeastern freshman defender Hunter McDonald in front, right onto the stick of Gauthier who chipped it off the ice and into the back of the net to tie the game at one. 

The remaining 12:21 of the first period was quiet on the scoresheet, as Northeastern let BC dictate play up and down the ice. Luckily for the Huskies, they were able to shut down the Eagles power play after a McDonald tripping minor late in the period, and had an opportunity on the advantage themselves thanks to sophomore forward Mike Posma’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. 

Throughout the night for Northeastern, the power play just couldn’t click. The Huskies finished the night with no power play goals on four chances. Some of those advantages were on the shorter side though, thanks to previous penalties already taken. It wasn’t just the power play either, as special teams overall for Northeastern were lackluster. 

Case in point — when Kuntar buried his third goal of the season late in the second period, again while the Huskies were on the penalty kill. He waited just to the left of junior goaltender Devon Levi, trying to put home the rebound off Gauthier’s hard shot from the top of the faceoff circle. Levi managed to stop the first two shots, but Kuntar wasted no time tapping in the third. 

This particular power play for BC came off a five-minute major, assessed to Northeastern’s sophomore forward Matt Choupani for butt-ending. Choupani not only received the major, but was tossed from the game with a misconduct, putting an already depleted Husky forward group even further undermanned. 

The Huskies managed to negate some of the five minute power play thanks to Kuntar taking a holding penalty himself 1:14 into the advantage. It proved to be not enough for the Huskies, as BC headed into the locker room with the lead. 

The Eagles started the third with 24 seconds remaining on the power play, but couldn’t convert on the advantage again. Senior forward Liam Izyk however gave BC the two goal lead with 15:28 left to play. Graduate student forward Cam Burke was the real cause of the third goal, gaining the zone and firing a hard shot on goal that Levi originally turned away. His linemate, fellow graduate student Christian O’Neill, put another shot that got blocked in front, before the puck got picked up by Izyk who tapped it right into the back of the net. 

After letting in the third goal, Northeastern finally got some sustained offensive zone time. They crashed the net thanks sophomore forward Justin Hryckowian, who found himself knocked down to the ice in the crease of Benson. Hryckowian, who was jamming his stick to try and get it into the goal, took a slashing penalty on the play and headed to the box with 11:06 remaining. 

BC’s junior forward Nikita Nesterenko negated the power play for his team thanks to a hooking call drawn in the Huskies’ defensive zone. 

The open ice on the 4-on-4 however was perfect for Gauthier, who carried the puck from his defensive zone all the way in front of Levi’s net. After taking advantage of sophomore defender Braden Doyle tripping over himself, Gauthier then dragged around Bucheler before backhanding the puck top shelf for his second goal of the game. 4-1 Boston College. 

That fourth goal though might just have been the switch for Northeastern, as the offense suddenly came back to life in the last ten minutes of regulation. Less than a minute after Gauthier’s tally, Novak smacked a missile home from the hash marks to bring the Huskies within two. Hryckowian had a beautiful backhanded feed to Novak for the goal, and senior forward Riley Hughes picked up the other assist on the play after forcing a turnover deep in the defensive zone. 

A little more back and forth to opposite ends of the ice killed off some time on the clock, and with 5:44 left, it seemed like the game might be sealed in favor of BC when senior forward Aidan McDonough took an elbowing penalty to put Northeastern back on the kill. 

The Huskies gave up three shots on goal on the penalty kill, luckily Levi was able to turn away all of them and McDonough was freed from the box without any more damage being done. 

Once again, the rush down the ice into the offensive zone for the Huskies proved fruitful, after Lund fed a cross-ice pass to Williams who hit junior forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine’s stick in front of the net on the shot. The rebound spilled right to Lund who tapped the puck in to bring the score to 4-3 with just over two minutes to play. 

It was one of the few shifts the Northeastern second line got to really have together, thanks to the multiple penalties taken by the team. Williams, who was moved to the second line after the injury to sophomore forward Jack Hughes last weekend, believes he and his new linemates seem to be meshing well together. 

“I thought we played really well last Saturday night, and I think it rolled over today,” he said. “Didn’t get too much time together just because of all the penalties but I think we played great when we’re out there.” 

In the dying minutes of regulation, the Huskies put everything they could on net, especially in the last minute where they took advantage of multiple icings by BC to set up in their own zone. Head coach Jerry Keefe opted to pull Levi for the extra attacker with nearly two minutes left on the clock, putting six players on the ice in a last desperate attack. 

Then in the most exhilarating moment yet — the desperate attack worked. 

A faceoff with 4.3 seconds remaining was won by Hryckowian back to McDonough. The original shot got blocked in front, but McDonough again tried to find the back of the net from the same spot. Benson lost control of the puck as it trickled behind him into the blue paint — allowing Lund to find it. He tapped the puck in with 0.6 seconds on the clock to complete the comeback. And his first hat trick in the NCAA. 

To overtime it went, and Northeastern had all the momentum on their side. The outshot BC 4-2 in the five minutes of extra play however Benson and Levi turned everything they saw away however. So for the second time at Matthews this season, the two teams finished the game in a tie. 

In the shootout, BC’s head coach Greg Brown opted to send Kuntar, Nesterenko, and junior defender Eamon Powell out for his three opportunities. Nesterenko tried to deke out the netminder while his teammates tried harder shots on goal. Levi turned all three Eagles away. 

Keefe, on the opposite bench, chose to send Hryckowian and McDonough out as his first two shooters. Benson got lucky as Hryckowian just hit the crossbar behind him on the hard shot, while the captain’s attempt went wide. It all came down to the final shot of the night, and who else could it be? 

Cam Lund. 

He skated into the zone, fired the shot on net, and put it past Benson to end it. Northeastern finished the 4-1 come back and stole the extra point in the shootout on home ice.  

“He’s obviously an extremely talented player,” Keefe said. “We’ve been hard on him too, because we feel like we want to make sure that we’re holding him accountable and make him the best player he can be and he’s responding. So good for him.” 

The coach was impressed by his entire team’s performance in the third period, especially with how they responded to the deficit being as large as it was. 

“A game like that really shows you what type of kids you have on your team, what type of character,” Keefe said. “That’s the thing that you’re most proud of as a coach.” 

He did note some drawbacks from his team particularly their inability to stay out of the penalty box. 

“We took way too many penalties,” Keefe said. “Offensive zone penalties. Not disciplined tonight at all, and I thought that had the biggest impact on the game against us.”

Kayla Shiao/WRBB Sports

Keefe also credited his leadership group as the ones who led the way on the bench, saying the message that the game was in reach came from them more than him and his coaching staff heading into the third. 

“You could hear your leaders just saying, ‘Hey, we’re not done yet. There’s a lot of time left,’” he said. “Credit to our leaders, credit to all the guys on the team, everyone on the bench. They just stayed with it and all the way down to less than a second left.”

His players echoed that sentiment, adding that the crowd and the atmosphere helped play a part too. 

“It was amazing,” Lund said. “Everyone’s into the game. Even in the third period, when we were down 4-1 the whole crowd was into the whole game the whole time too. And even our bench, everyone’s picking each other up.” 

His linemate, Williams, agreed with him. 

“I think there’s no quit,” he said. “Once [Novak] scored that goal, I think everybody on our bench, we knew what was going on. We had energy, we were still going. There was no quit on our bench tonight.” 

Kayla Shiao/WRBB Sports

The Huskies and Eagles are right back at it on Saturday at Conte Forum out in Chestnut Hill. WRBB will have coverage live from Kelley Rink with Emma Sullivan, Matty Wasserman, and Khalin Kapoor on the call just before puck drop at 7 p.m.