BOSTON — Both Boston University and Northeastern entered Friday night’s intra-city grudge match at Matthews Arena in the bottom half of Hockey East in scoring offense and power play efficiency.
But after 13 goals, three power-play tallies for each team, and one thrilling college hockey game, neither team has to worry about scoring goals anymore.
“The best part of the game aside from the two points was getting our power play back on track,” said BU coach Jack Packer after watching his team hold off a late surge by Northeastern to win, 7-6. “We had problems scoring goals and problems on the power play before, but we figured those out tonight.”
Trailing 3-1 after first-period goals by Northeastern forwards Jason Guerriero, Mike Ryan and Scott Selig, the Terriers (3-1-2, 1-1-0 HEA) erupted for five goals in the second to take control.
“They made us look like a pee-wee team in the second period,” said Northeastern coach Bruce Crowder.
The flurry began at 1:19, when Ryan Whitney broke a 0-for-18 power play slump by one-timing a pass from Brian McConnell past Northeastern goaltender Keni Gibson.
After that, two quick goals by BU assistant captain John Sabo put the Terriers ahead to stay.
The first came on a backhander through Gibson’s five-hole at 4:09, then Sabo rebounded his own shot for BU’s second power play goal of the game about two minutes later.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence now,” Parker said of Sabo, who now has two multi-goal games this season. “He’s not up-tight out there. He’s just working hard.”
Less than four minutes after Sabo’s second goal, McConnell, who finished the game with three assists, stormed down the left wing on a 3-on-2 before feathering a gorgeous pass through the slot to defenseman Bryan Miller, who roofed his first goal of the season to make it 5-3.
“He’s a great playmaker,” Parker said of McConnell. “All of my wings keep telling me that they want to play with him.”
The Terriers completed their second period frenzy at 12:32, when junior Mark Mullen sent a pristine, cross-ice pass from the point to freshman David Van der Gulik, who was waiting on the doorstep to Gibson’s right and beat him top-shelf to make it 6-3.
But urged on by a raucous home crowd of 4,345, the Huskies countered BU’s dominant second period with a workmanlike third that nearly forced overtime.
Northeastern (1-3-2, 0-1-1) took its first bite out of BU’s lead at 7:03, when sophomore Jared Mudryk put a wrister past BU netminder Sean Fields from between the hashes. Huskies freshman standout Mike Morris then made it 6-5 on a blast from the slot at 12:07.
However, a huge power play goal by BU with less than 7 minutes remaining swung the momentum back the other way.
With Northeastern center Brian Tudrick in the box for cross-checking, Miller centered BU sophomore Justin Maiser, whose blast from the slot rung the crossbar before falling behind Northeastern freshman Tim Heneroty. Heneroty made 15 third-period saves in relief of Gibson.
“We got caught out of position all over the place in the third period,” Parker said. “But we kept our poise in the end. That was a huge power-play goal.”
But again, Huskies refused to go down without a fight. On the power play, NU sophomore Jason Guerriero — who finished with four points on the night — sent a cross-ice pass to Huskies captain Mike Ryan, who was waiting at the top of the right faceoff circle. Ryan’s blast found a sliver of space above Fields’s shoulder, cutting the BU lead to one with 3:36 to play.
The equalizer eluded Northeastern, even after Crowder pulled Heneroty with 51 seconds left. Nevertheless, Crowder was pleased with his team’s effort.
“Give credit to our guys,” he said. “We battled back, but we just didn’t battle back enough.”
Gibson, who had a .926 save percentage heading into the game, stopped just 15 of 21 shots in the first two periods.
“I’m sure Keni wants some of those goals back, but some of those pucks had eyes, too,” Crowder said. “He had a good week of practice and he’s a good goalie. This was just one of those nights.”
Fields, meanwhile, made 21 saves for the Terriers. BU travels to No. 1 New Hampshire for a Hockey East showdown on Saturday night, while Northeastern plays host to Massachusetts.