Men’s Hockey: No trophy on Huntington Avenue

Men’s Hockey: No trophy on Huntington Avenue

Somewhere in a Huntington Avenue dorm where Northeastern apparel adorns a cluttered wall and an NU schedule is littered with missed opportunities in the shape of “L’s” reality has sunk in for a diehard Husky fan.

The bite of losing has stung this fan’s persistent optimistic spirit too many times now to count – heightened only further by the events Monday in the first round of the Beanpot at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Huskies coach Greg Cronin had a pregame hope that his squad could “catch lightning in a bottle” in the first period of the 54th ‘Pot against No. 5 Boston College like they did in three previous meetings.

However, his team couldn’t have performed any further from that aspiration.

The Eagles (18-6-2), behind three first-frame goals, got all they needed in the opening 20 minute and skated out the final 40 minutes to claim a 5-2 victory before the early arrival of a sellout crowd of 17,565 on Causeway Street.

“That was a tough draw, BC’s a very tough team,” NU captain defenseman Chuck Tomes said. “We have so many young kids on this team so there was a lot of talking between us about being in the Beanpot. It was definitely hard to prepare for and the first period reflected that.”

Whatever chance the Huskies (1-19-6) had of a major upset seemed all but erased with 2:10 left in the first period. BC senior left wing Chris Collins, skating straight to freshman starting goalie Doug Jewer’s pad, stuffed the puck in for a 3-0 Eagle lead and had Cronin scratching his head as to how the score could have progressed so quickly – and poorly.

“Sometimes you’re down 3-0 and you’re playing terrible and just looking at the clock saying ‘God, let’s end this quick, it’s gonna be 8-0,'” Cronin said, who pulled Jewer directly after the Collins goal. “Other times, you’re down 3-0 and you don’t really feel you’ve been dominated. I kept telling them, ‘It’s not a 3-0 game.'”

Cronin, as he has all year, was looking for something more from his team’s offensive play.

“[The coaches] kept telling them after the first period that we just had to find a spark,” Cronin said. “We had to score a goal, just find some energy on the bench.”

The Huskies did, although for only a few minutes at a time.

Husky junior forward Bryan Esner provided hope for NU 13:45 into the second period when he shot in a rebound off sophomore forward’s Josh Robertson’s shot to make it a two-goal contest.

However, senior forward Stephen Gionta helped build further credence to BC’s elite national ranking when, immediately after an NU penalty, he slapped in a goal from the blue line and increased the BU lead to three (4-1) 2:36 into the third period.

“Everybody talks about our freshmen, but we’ve got a senior class that’s second to none,” BC coach Jerry York said of his small graduating class, including Gionta.

The Huskies made it a game again just over two minutes later when freshman Dennis McCauley produced a highlight-worthy goal to make it 4-2. With the puck high in the air after a deflected Robertson shot, McCauley gloved the puck in front of BC goalie Cory Schneider, athletically placed the puck in the slot, produced a quick deke on Schneider and potted a goal.

The final dagger for NU came with 9:51 left in the third period, when, on a power play miscue near the BC blue line, Collins stole the puck and skated in for a breakaway and goal on junior goaltender Adam Geragosian (20 saves) to claim a commanding three-goal lead at 5-2.

“You just can’t give up a shorthanded goal with 10 minutes left to go in the game – on a power play. That’s unforgivable,” Cronin said. “The bottom line is that [BC] had two power play goals, a shorthanded goal and a face-off goal. And a team like BC – when they get those chances – will score on half of them. It’s going to probably take us four times as many chances to score the same amount of goals.”

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