Eagles crash Huskies’ party
After a disappointing loss at Merrimack Friday, Northeastern had a golden opportunity to rebound in strong fashion in its own building against the No. 2-ranked team in the country - Hockey East rival Boston College. For the first two periods, the Huskies played determined, inspired hockey but couldn’t hold off the surging Eagles, who rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period and scored with a minute left in overtime to earn a 4-3 victory at Matthews Arena in front of 4,746 fans.
Center Billy Arnold bunted in the puck after defenseman Patch Alber sailed it down from the right side of the blue line.
BC coach Jerry York, whose team improved to 5-1-0 overall and 3-0-0 in league play, suggested it was Arnold’s baseball-playing days that aided the goal but Arnold smiled and said he hadn’t played the sport.
“The line before had a really good shift and got smart changes and we were able to keep the puck down in their zone,’’ said Arnold. “Kevin Hayes threw the puck out to Patch Alber and we talk a lot about going to the net and getting bodies to the net. So I went to the net and Patch put the puck down there and when you do, good things happen and I was able to get a stick on it.’’
Heading into the game, NU had all the motivation in the world given BC’s national status as well as the fact that talented freshman Johnny Gaudreau pulled the plug on going to the Huskies when former coach Greg Cronin left for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Gaudreau elected to head to the Heights.
The Huskies, 1-3-1 overall and in Hockey East, aren’t in rebuilding mode so much as they’re in an adjustment mode with a new bench boss and a new system. So there were plenty of positives to take out of the contest despite the loss.
“I thought we played well for two periods,’’ said NU coach Jim Madigan. “There are no moral victories in here. But I thought we played well as a team and did some of the things that we talked about after [Friday’s game]. But when you lose a two-goal lead in your own building, that’s not a good thing.’’
Until they righted the ship in the third period, the Eagles were nearly ruined by their lack of discipline in taking several uncharacteristic penalties as well as defensive breakdowns.
BC took the lead just 1:55 into the action when Kevin Hayes flipped a shot from the right circle that eluded netminder Chris Rawlings (39 saves).
But NU answered, tying the game at 4:50 during a power play when left wing Steve Quailer jammed in a shot from just outside the right post past goalie Parker Milner (19 saves).
The Huskies went ahead at 17:56 as a result of a BC turnover. They actually had a one-on-three break, which seemed a low percentage play. But that changed when freshman Joseph Manno jumped up into the play, skated down the slot, and punched a shot past Milner for his first collegiate goal.
Manno took advantage of another BC defensive breakdown in front of the net and beat Milner from the slot to make it 3-1 at 8:21 of the second.
The Eagles made it a one-goal game at 8:04 of the third, by far their best period, when right wing Barry Almeida squeaked one in on Rawlings from in tight. And defenseman Brian Dumoulin tied it at 11:09 with a goal from the doorstep.
It wasn’t all good news for BC, though. Defenseman Patrick Wey suffered a serious injury when a skate blade severed a tendon in his foot.
“He’s been a really good player for us,’’ said York. “He’ll probably be gone six, seven or eight weeks. Hopefully he’ll get the tendon sewn back [during surgery last night]. That is a tough loss for us.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.