BOSTON — Speed kills.
Or, at least Saturday night when Boston College visited Northeastern, it wins hockey games.
It doesn’t hurt to have a few pinpoint snipers, either, as No. 4 BC combined a speedy offensive rush with some well-placed shots to down the host Huskies, 4-1.
“This is the best 60-minute hockey game we’ve played all year,” Eagles coach Jerry York said. “I thought we were solid in all three zones. From the goalie to the defense to the forwards, we competed very, very hard.”
BC held a 2-0 lead after one period on goals by Ryan Murphy and Dave Spina.
Nine minutes into the game, Murphy carried the puck around the right post, spun and fired the puck along the ice and past NU netminder Keni Gibson (34 saves).
Two minutes later, junior forward Chris Collins connected with senior linemate Dave Spina at the left post for a one-timer tally.
It could’ve been much worse for Husky fans. The Eagles clanged two shots off the post and another off the crossbar in the opening frame.
“Loud posts, too. Bang, off the pipe,” York said. “We generated more offense than we have recently and that’s been a big theme of ours: to make the other goaltender work and try to light some red lights there. We’re talking about generating more speed with the offense. It’s easy to talk about, hard to do.”
Neither team controlled play in the second period, as senior defenseman Donny Grover scored the lone Northeastern goal with 53 seconds left in the middle frame. After junior forward Mike Morris — back in the lineup after missing four games — collided with sophomore Yale Lewis just inside the BC blue line, Grover picked up the puck and headed towards the goal. After his initial backhand attempt failed, the rearguard jammed the puck past freshman goalie Cory Schneider (29 saves).
“For the most part, I think BC’s the best team we’ve played this year,” NU coach Bruce Crowder said. “The first period tonight we were kind of a little bit in awe, watching them skate around. We gave them way too much room and they really kind of took it to us. I thought we rebounded with a pretty good second period.
“The guys have showed us that if we come to play, we can play with anybody,” he added. “The thing that was discouraging for us as a staff, was what we did in the first period. We didn’t come to play. That’s something that we can’t have happen.”
Part of Northeastern’s lack of success had to do with Schneider, a first-round NHL draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks last year.
“The kid’s a first-round draft pick, rightfully so,” Spina said of the 3-0-2 netminder. “Him and (Matti Kaltiainen) and (Robbie Miller) are just competing so hard in practice; you don’t see pucks go in the net that much. Cory’s such a level-headed kid, such a good person. It’s just what he’s good at, stopping the puck.”
“He’s been very good right from the get-go,” York said. “It’s hard to hold any Hockey East team to one goal; he made some big saves for us.”
3:31 into the third period, senior forward Ned Havern fed sophomore Brian Boyle in the slot from behind the net for a perfectly-placed one-timer, giving the Eagles a 3-1 edge.
Four minutes later, freshman Dan Bertram dug the puck out from behind the goal, hitting junior linemate Stephen Gionta all alone in front of Gibson. After he zipped his wrist shot over Gibson’s glove, many of the 3,709 in attendance began to file out.