Men’s Hockey: NU stuns Boston College in overtime win

Men’s Hockey: NU stuns Boston College in overtime win

By Matt Nielsen

For the men’s hockey fans who left Boston for the holidays, brace yourselves – you’re in for a shock. On the last day of fall finals, the Huskies (6-10-3, 3-8-3 Hockey East) had been soundly beaten by Maine, and memories of a winless November were fresh in your minds.

But after hiring a new assistant coach, former Ottawa Senators standout Shawn McEachern, who also spent the 1995-96 and 2005-06 seasons with the Boston Bruins, the team has gone 2-1-1, including an overtime win Friday against conference-rival Boston College.

Northeastern went into the weekend tied with Lowell for eighth place in the Hockey East, a point behind Providence College.

The Huskies opened the weekend at home against No. 7 Boston College. NU has a history of playing tough games against the Eagles at Matthews Arena.

On Nov. 17, the Huskies took BC to overtime at Matthews after captain Mike Morris scored the game-tying goal with 2.6 seconds remaining in regulation. The game ended in a 3-3 tie. Early last season, the Huskies hosted then-No. 6 BC at home and played them to a 1-1 tie in overtime.

Given recent history, the Huskies were surprised to find themselves down 2-0 at the end of the first period.

Six minutes into the first period, freshman defenseman David Strathman took possession of the puck at center ice. While waiting for his teammates to get back onside he was pick-pocketed by sophomore forward Benn Ferriero, who passed forward to senior forward Joe Rooney. Rooney beat freshman goaltender Brad Thiessen for his sixth goal of the year. Thiessen was named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 8.

Eight minutes later freshman forward Ben Smith scored a power play goal to put the Eagles up by two.

The Huskies’ comeback began at 12:48 in the second period, when senior forward Ray Ortiz fed Strathman, who beat BC goaltender Cory Schneider high for his second goal of the season. Senior defenseman Steve Birnstill, who returned Dec. 29 after missing more than a month due to a shoulder injury, recorded his team-high eighth assist of the season.

In the 13th minute of the third period, junior forward Jimmy Russo collected a rebound and passed to sophomore defenseman Jacques Perreault, who fed sophomore forward Dennis McCauley. McCauley beat Schneider to knot the contest at two.

The Huskies played tough hockey for the rest of the period and forced overtime, a familiar occurrence in this series.

Halfway through overtime, Northeastern put away any thoughts of another tie. After Eagles forward Pat Gannon nearly won it for BC with a shot off the crossbar, Ortiz grabbed the puck and dished it to assistant captain Yale Lewis. The forward threw the puck toward the net and sophomore defenseman Denis Chisolm scored between Schneider’s legs for NU’s first victory over BC in just over three years.

“The theme has been consistency and team play,” said head coach Greg Cronin. “When you’re rebuilding a program and you play a great game, but still lose by a goal, that’s not good enough. You have to win games. … We’ll put our points in the bank and move on.”

Northeastern held BC to just 16 shots in the game, 14 of which were stopped by Thiessen for his fourth win of the year.

“I thought [NU] prevented a lot of our scoring chances,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “Thiessen didn’t have to see a lot of shots. They also cycled the puck well.”

Riding high off the previous evening’s win, the Huskies visited No. 13 Boston University Saturday night at Agganis Arena.

For the first three periods, neither side had many promising scoring chances. The Huskies recorded just four shots on goal in the first period, and only five in the second. The teams combined to go 0-15 on the power play, with the Terriers killing off ten power plays by themselves.

“Both teams were obviously strong defensively,” Cronin said. “Both were probably disappointed in their power play.”

The final 30 seconds of overtime provided the most excitement of the game, with freshman goalie Brad Thiessen stopping several shots in a free-for-all in front of the Husky net. In the middle of the melee Thiessen lost his stick, but still managed to stonewall the suddenly energized Terriers. Thiessen stopped 26 shots on the night for his second shutout of the year. BU goalie John Curry made 20 saves for a shutout of his own.

The 0-0 tie was just the third in the history of Northeastern men’s hockey, with the last one nearly three years ago against Maine on Feb. 14, 2004.

During the winter break, the Huskies participated in the Toyota UConn Hockey Classic. They were rusty for their first game in two weeks, and suffered a 5-2 loss to Colgate Dec. 29.

The Huskies opened the scoring on sophomore forward Ryan Ginand’s second goal of the season at 14:12 in the first period. The Huskies then surrendered two power play goals in the final six minutes of the period, and never recovered. Lewis scored his first goal of the year and Thiessen made 34 saves in the loss.

The next day, NU came back in a big way for the tournament’s consolation game. After falling behind 1-0 to Holy Cross, McCauley tied the score on his fourth goal of the year at 13:20 in the first period.

After falling behind again 15 seconds into the third period, Northeastern rallied back, on Ginand’s second goal of the tournament. Just 11 seconds later, the Huskies tallied the game-winning goal when senior forward Joe Santilli fed sophomore forward Joe Vitale, who scored his fourth goal of the year on the backhand.

The Huskies added four more goals in the period, including Santilli and freshman defenseman Jim Driscoll’s first goals of the year.

Russo and freshman forward Kyle Kraemer added their second and third goals of the year, respectively.

Senior goaltender Adam Geragosian stopped 15 shots for the wi, his second of the year.

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