BOSTON — If cats have nine lives, how many do dogs have?
The Huskies may have used up a couple of theirs this weekend. Facing elimination from the Hockey East playoffs both Friday and Saturday, Northeastern played like a team with its back to the wall, earning a tie at home before delivering a rare but resounding road victory before 2,805 at Walter Brown Arena Saturday.
Jason Guerriero had two goals and two assists, and linemate Mike Morris potted two more along with a helper of his own, as the Huskies lived to play another day by beating Boston University 6-3, keyed by a five-goal outburst in the second period. David Van der Gulik had a goal and an assist in a losing effort for the Terriers.
“I think the biggest thing was Jason’s goal 47 seconds into the second period,” Husky coach Bruce Crowder said. “Anytime you can get a goal that quick, it helps. We’ve still got a road ahead of us. It was a game where we figured out Fields a bit, and some pucks had eyes on them. But I really thought our effort was good for all 60 minutes. We had contributions from all four lines; it was a big goal by Tudrick in the third period to give us six.
“We need a good week of practice, and we need some help from other people in the league,” added Crowder. “Friday night [against Massachusetts] is a huge game. They’ve all been big for us since the 0-9-2 start.”
After emerging from a lengthy postgame discussion with his squad, Terrier coach Jack Parker was uncharacteristically terse.
“I thought Northeastern played extremely well,” Parker said. “They won one game on the road all year long, and they come in here and played great in every phase of the game. They got great goaltending, competed well in front of the net, did a great job through center ice stopping us and turning the puck around.
“They had a lot of jump, a lot of three-on-twos, two-on-ones,” added Parker. “I thought they played extremely well. Anything else?”
Um, yes. How did Parker think that his team played?
“Horribly,” he said.
Asked to elaborate, he added, “We didn’t cover anybody. We didn’t compete. We got beat to every loose puck. Just as I described Northeastern looking so good, we looked just as bad.”
Many times this season, Parker commented that his team had played as if they hoped that the game would be an easy win. Was that the case tonight?
“They didn’t play like they wanted it to be easy,” Parker said. “They played like they were disinterested tonight. Absolutely disinterested. A pathetic display by the Boston University team, a terrific display by Northeastern.”
You have now read Parker’s postgame comments in their entirety.
The game started out quite hopefully for the Terriers. On their second shift at 1:26, Kenny Roche corralled the rebound of a Brad Zancanaro shot and deposited a low one in the net, beating Keni Gibson on the glove side.
There weren’t too many grade ‘A’ chances for either team for the rest of the period, as the teams notched ten shots apiece with the Terriers getting a slight edge in chances.
Guerriero’s early goal in the second set the tone for what was arguably the worst period a BU team has put together in years. After a bad Terrier turnover just outside their blue line, Guerriero ended up with the puck behind the BU net on Fields’ glove side. He ultimately skated out, apparently looking to pass, then wheeled to fire a high shot that beat Fields high on the stick side.
At the six-minute mark, Fields stopped Eric Ortlip’s initial shot but was helpless in defending against Brian Swiniarski’s rebound attempt. Just over three minutes later, Guerriero made a fantastic play. Muscled down to his knees by a BU defenseman, he still managed to dish a backhanded pass to Mike Morris in the slot for a shot and a goal.
Thirty-two seconds later, the Huskies raced in again and Morris simply beat Fields with a 12-foot wrister to make it 4-1.
The Terriers bounced back just 37 seconds after that, when Bryan Miller set up Brian McConnell on his left wing for his fifth goal in his last four games. But with just 30.5 seconds left in the period, the Huskies struck a killer blow on a two-on-one. With Ray Ortiz on his right wing, Guerriero did a great job of selling the pass, freezing Fields with his shot.
“Ray went to the net; the D has to make the option,” Guerriero said. “It was Ray’s goal. I took the shot, and it snuck through, but the guy without the puck is usually making the play.”
“Jay just competes and competes and competes,” Crowder said of Guerriero. “He’s very much underrated in this league. Just look at the game he had tonight for us.
“I had a talk with him and Mikey Mo [Morris] this morning,” revealed Crowder. “For the most part, they were a non-factor for us last night. We play five-on-five hockey, and we break the video down a certain way. When they only have one attempt five-on-five in 60 minutes of hockey-and they had a couple in overtime-that’s not good enough. Mike and Jay answered the coaching bell, and that’s what we need. They’re two of our best players, and we need them playing at their best.”
The Huskies’ fourth line contributed a goal at 2:54 of the third period, as Brian Tudrick deposited the rebound of a Jon Awe shot. For BU, John Laliberte set up David Van der Gulik for a one-timer at 12:10, but it was a moot point by then.
In the fight for the dubious distinction of getting to play No. 1 ranked Boston College in the Hockey East quarterfinals, the Huskies (9-16-6, 3-13-5 Hockey East) still trail the Terriers (9-15-7, 5-13-3) by two points going into the last weekend of league play. Northeastern plays a home-and-home series against Massachusetts on Friday and Saturday, while BU does the same with UNH on Thursday and Saturday.