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College Hockey:
Some observations from NU’s upset of BU on Thursday

In what has been a season of playoff upsets, Hockey East showed it won’t leave the drama to the other guys. One game in the books, one upset as sixth-seeded Northeastern outplayed and outworked No. 3 seed Boston University. End result was a 4-2 win for the Huntington Hounds, who brought with them an impressive visiting crowd into Agganis Arena on Thursday night.

Here are some observations from the game:

Northeastern Chris Rawlings was ready. There were some questions down the stretch how prepared Rawlings was and how well he was playing, so much so that he sat on the bench last Saturday as rookie Clay Witt pulled off the identical upset, beating BU, 4-3. Huskies head coach Greg Cronin admitted he had a difficult decision on his hands entering Thursday. “I didn’t know I was going to go with Rawlings until yesterday afternoon,” said Cronin. “Witt played well enough that he had the right to compete for the [start].” Good decision, indeed, as Rawlings stopped 37 shots.

BU power play couldn’t get it done. Despite scoring a goal when Ryan Ruikka poked home a rebound to draw the Terriers within two at 4-2, the BU power play didn’t perform up to snuff. They plastered 19 shots on Rawlings in nine PP attempts but as head coach Jack Parker said, “Most of them hit him in the chest.” The critical moment came with less than eight minutes remaining as the Terriers had a 5-on-3 for 37 seconds and failed to convert. As legendary Boston Globe scribe John Powers said after the game, “BU teams of old would’ve tied the game right there.”

Silva was outstanding for the Huskies. Steve Silva scored two goals for Northeastern and added an assist, but he was also one of the best players on the ice for the Huskies on the night. He easily could’ve had the hat trick if not for an early shot in the game that clanged the inside of the iron but somehow stayed out.

BU likely has to win out for NCAA bid. If there was much question as to whether or not BU had to win the Hockey East tournament to qualify for the NCAA’s, it’s now likely been answered. The Terriers entered the game on the wrong side of the bubble and with the loss Thursday dropped to a tie for 18th. If BU doesn’t go on a four-game winning streak, their season is likely done. “We knew [coming into tonight] we certainly had to get to the Garden and at probably get to the final game,” said Parker. “[The NCAA tournament] is the last thing on our mind.”

Return for Cronin was like riding a bike. Thursday was Cronin’s first game back behind the bench after serving a six-game suspension for NCAA recruiting violations. The sixth year bench boss, though, said nothing really felt different on Thursday night. “I didn’t feel any different,” said Cronin. “Even before the game it’s the same routine, same thing we did. I didn’t even feel like I was gone.”

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  • Blueliner

    At the end of regular season play in Hockey East, BU’s power play rated # 8 of the 10 teams at 12.8%. They were 1 for 9 tonight. OUCH; that’s not going to get the job done.

    • Debonvine

      So the Power Play tonight was Business as usual…

  • Jasper 194

    Jack Parker’s refs did a good job trying to help the Terriers tie it up in the 3rd, but the Huskies played very well on the PK

  • FightinSue

    On one hand, you have Jack Parker still getting some good old wink wink nudge nudge calls from the officials. But he doesn’t even have to work too hard for that, just his past reputation earns him these calls.

    On the other hand, he’s completely lost the ability to get his kids up for these games (2009 notwithstanding, and we all know a monkey could have coached that team to a national title) and he can’t relate to these kids anymore.

    It’s a sad state of affairs but I hope he coaches there forever!

    • Bharvey13

      Its really amazing how BU still gets all those calls. UNH was one of the least penalized teams in the country this year and it feels like they spend half the game in the box against BU

      • Anonymous

        Who’s reffing that series? Please say Benedetto/Gravalese, I am praying MC/ME doesn’t draw them.

        • After Further Review

          Benedetto/Shea… at least last night

    • Getreal

      Maybe a few recruiting violations would have helped Parker. The NU coaching staff is a joke.

  • NUkid

    We brought an “impressive visiting crowd” at a ridiculous $30 a ticket I might add. Good thing we have jobs.. (poke at BU, I think so)

  • Ctyank84

    Not a fan of either team however NE will win the series because they are hungier and also because Cronin is a better bench coach. His ability to make changes during the coarse of the game will prove NE the series winner. Not to mention NE 1st line is as good as any in HE.

    • After Further Review

      Really? I agree Cronin is a good bench coach. I am also happy to see NU doing well, with wins over BC and BU lately, but I think there are 4 other HE teams that have a better first line… not to mention lines 2 through 4. They may work as hard or harder, but they don’t have that talent.
      This is in no way a shot against NU, they have played a good team game and goaltending has been a bit sporadic, but come up big at times, like most good teams do.

    • Blueliner

      I love the Huskies. Plus, Matthews Arena when the dog house is packed is one of the best venues in college hockey. BUT, I need to agree with “After Further Review”; my pick for the BEST first line is the UNH trio of Paul Thompson, Phil DeSimone and Mike Sislo.

  • fcc56

    Okay, so this is just an opinion, but the way these two teams have been playing in recent weeks, I don’t really see this as an upset. I actually expect NU to win this series.

    An interesting element to this is that NU is close to becoming a TUC (RPI .4978). If that happens, BC picks up two wins, a loss, and a tie in the PWR TUC comparisons. If I am doing the calculation correctly, this would drop BC’s TUC percentage to .675 (13-6-1) from .6875 (11-5), making it more difficult to overtake Yale and increasing the chances of being passed by UND. So, it is in BC’s best interests that BU take the series and prevent NU from becoming a TUC. It might also be in BC’s best interest to not get NU as a semi-final opponent. :)

    UNH has a win and two ties against NU, so it would also benefit UNH for NU to not become a TUC (since ties lower the “win %” – really a “not-lost %”). Maine, OTOH, is 2-1-0 against NU (so far). If NU becomes a TUC, Maine improves to 8-9-2 against TUC, or .4736, up from its current .4375. This would give Maine a couple more PWR comparison wins, Dartmouth and Ferris State.

    Assuming I have done this right, I don’t know if this would be enough to get Maine into the NCAA tournament, but it can’t hurt. A couple wins against Merrimack would go a long way toward HE getting four teams in.

    Of course, I could have this all wrong!

    Perhaps I am missing something, but when I go through the individual PWR comparisons that Maine loses, the team’s record against TUC is not consistent from one comparison to the next. ??

    • Blueliner

      Oh my gosh! You actually understand this arcane stuff?
      My system is that I cheer for the teams I like; let’s go Huskies!!!!

    • After Further Review

      It would not hurt UNH though… their TUC winning pct is .5000 (8-8-1)… add in 1-0-2 (.6667) vs, NU would make them 10-8-3, which is .5476.

  • Patriotssuper3

    Could we get a writeup involving a team OTHER than RIT?

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