The Boston College Eagles and Northeastern University Huskies carried the top two spots in Hockey East into a high stakes meeting on Saturday night at Matthews Arena. The crosstown rivals each survived grueling games the night before and wanted to cap the weekend with two wins. On this night, BC got the better bounces and goaltending, and thus the victory.
Neither team got started early. The first shot on goal came 5:48 into the game. After that shot, BC turned up the offense, outshooting Northeastern 13-8 after opening slowly. BC also got four shots on a power play following a John Pickering hooking call. Cayden Primeau was up to the task and stopped every shot he faced in Northeastern’s net. Sadly, he didn’t get much help from his skaters.
The Huskies failed to record a shot on the power play following a David Cotton interference call and produced a bad bounce that gave BC the lead. With 17 seconds left in the frame, BC entered Northeastern’s zone. Jesper Mattila threw the puck towards the net and it careened off Ryan Shea’s skate and then off Primeau’s stick into Northeastern’s net. On the funky bounce, BC took a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
The second period was clean and fast. Neither side took a penalty the entire frame or pulled any foolish antics. It was just good, clean, physical hockey. Northeastern had their best period of the night, outshooting BC 13-3. Joseph Woll stood on his head and stopped every single shot he faced in the period. The Huskies had their best chance, but could not tie the game before the second intermission.
Neither team got the edge in the first half of the third period. They each skated evenly and created plenty of chances. Near the halfway mark of the frame, BC saw their chance to seize control and took it. At the 8:11 mark, Matt Filipe was called for a slashing penalty. 1:15 into the power play, Graham McPhee took a pass from Christopher Brown at the left circle, fired a shot on Primeau, and extended BC’s lead to 2-0. Only 45 seconds later, BC got another fortunate bounce. Ron Greco got to the left side of the goalie crease and chipped the puck over Primeau’s head.
BC got one final fortunate bounce when Julius Mattila drove the puck to the Northeastern defensive blue line. He threw it towards the net. Zach Solow dove to try and block the shot. Instead, the puck bounced off Solow’s back into the net for the fourth BC goal. John Picking did get Northeastern on the board when he tipped a shot by Eetu Selanne by Woll near the end of the period. The goal was Picking’s first collegiate goal and Selanne’s first point. Sadly, they could not get any more offense and fell 4-1 to BC.
After the game, Jerry York was happy with his unit and highly complimentary of Northeastern. “I like how we’re playing as a team. There’s more cohesion than when we started 1-5-1. And Northeastern is one of the best teams in the nation. That’s absolutely Jim (Madigan)’s best team and they’ll be great.” BC started 1-5-1 with hard losses to Wisconsin, St. Cloud, Providence, and Denver. Since November began, BC has won seven consecutive games and is now 8-5-1 and 8-1-0 in Hockey East, first place in the conference. The Eagles return home for a Black Friday Matinee against the Harvard University Crimson. Puck drops at 4 pm.
Jim Madigan kept optimistic but noted BC’s skill. “They’re a fast team. When we recognized we didn’t have the time to make some plays, we adjusted. I liked how we responded in the second period. We just couldn’t figure out their goaltender and took a poorly timed penalty.” With the loss, Northeastern falls to 7-4-1 and 5-2 in Hockey East. They fall into a tie for second place in the conference with a recently resurgent UMass Lowell. The Huskies have a ten-day layoff before their final game of the month. They travel to Hartford, CT, to take on the University of Connecticut at the XL Center on Tuesday, November 28th. Puck drops at 7 pm.