Boston, MA — Northeastern has lived in Boston University’s shadow for years. The Huskies toiled in mediocrity with no significant trophies between the late eighties until only three seasons ago while the Terriers helped ran the show in eastern collegiate hockey. Since 2016, Jim Madigan’s Huskies flipped the script with a pair of Beanpots and a Hockey East Title, and a consistently excellent season in 2019 while Albie O’Connell’s Terriers struggled in an up and down season. Both made the Hockey East Semi-Finals and walked into TD Garden looking for a win and a game on Saturday night for the Conference Championship. Both teams poured all their energy on the ice renewing the rivalry and Northeastern continued reversing historical trends.
The opener was mostly an even-nothing burger. BU won the shot total slightly, but Northeastern had their chances. The most interesting moment of the frame came when Logan Cockerill apparently ripped a shot through traffic with 2:03 left. The officials wiped the goal off the board on the grounds of goalie interference by Bobo Carpenter.
BU looked to get the disallowed goal back in the second and capitalized on a Patrick Schule slashing minor. In the dying seconds of the advantage, Ty Amonte whipped one inside the left post and under the bar on a scramble and gave BU a 1-0 lead. Northeastern controlled the remainder of the frame, but Jake Oettinger played up to his standards in TD Garden, stopping all 18 shots from the Huskies.
The momentum built in the second was immediately carried into the third as Matt Filipe drove up the left boards and threw the puck on net for Tyler Madden to clean up for his 12th goal of the year and a tie game only 16 seconds into the frame. NU continued to dominate the play for the rest of regulation, winning the shots 10-3 and out-chancing BU 21-15. Northeastern even scored late in the third, but like the first apparent BU tally, a Lincoln Griffin score was wiped off the board thanks to goaltender interference. Oettinger again held firm and forced the game into overtime, oddly mirroring this year’s Beanpot matchup between the two.
The trend of Northeastern controlling the pace of play continued in overtime and their persistence was rewarded. 15:44 into the extra session, BU failed to clear a puck from their end. Zach Solow went to the slot and received a pass from Brandon Hawkins. Northeastern’s sophomore from Naples, FL, corraled the puck and lasered a shot through Oettinger and send Northeastern to the Hockey East Championship game for the second time in four seasons.
BU ends a frustrating season at 16-18-4. They teased and tantalized fans much of the season with elite talent, but did not piece it together.
“That was a very fun college hockey game,” commented Albie O’Connell. “Obviously it’s not very fun being on this end of it. We had some chances that we didn’t capitalize on. Hard way to lose.”
Jake Oettinger recorded 42 saves on 44 shots faced.
BU might also lose notable players like Joel Farabee, who didn’t play against Northeastern after his injury against Lowell last weekend, Dante Fabbro, Shane Bowers, and Oettinger. Albie O’Connell will have plenty to sort out in the offseason for the Terriers.
Northeastern improves to 26-10-1. Solow records a program record six game-winning goals this season with his OT winner. The 26 wins set a program record for a season, previously tied with the 1982 and 2009 editions. Both reached the NCAA Tournament and the 1982 team is the only Husky unit to reach the Frozen Four.
“Two teams battled, competed late into the overtime,” observed Jim Madigan. “This game could’ve gone either way. Thrilled we’re in the championship; that’s where we want to be.”
Cayden Primeau stopped 29 of 30 shots. Through three Hockey East postseason games, the sophomore from Voorhees, NJ, has stopped 103 of 106 shots for a .972 save percentage.
Northeastern will face their other Beanpot rival, Boston College, on Saturday night. Puck drop at TD Garden is at 7 pm.