BOSTON — For the second time in nine days, Northeastern and Boston University skated to a 2-2 tie through regulation. This time, though, there simply wasn’t enough overtime to render a decision.
In a battle of two solid goaltenders, BU and NU skated to a 2-2 tie in front of a boisterous crowd of 3,249 at Matthews Arena. The tie eliminates Northeastern from home-ice contention in Hockey East, and keeps BU one point behind first-place New Hampshire heading down the home stretch.
Both Northeastern’s Keni Gibson (36 saves) and BU’s John Curry (28 saves) played spectacularly, particularly late in the game. Gibson, in particular, kept history from repeating itself with a glove save late in overtime on BU’s Chris Bourque.
Nine days ago, in the Beanpot championship game, it was Bourque who ended things late in the first 20-minute overtime to give BU its 26th Beanpot championship. Wednesday, with BU on the power play and 1:08 left in overtime, Bourque teed up a blast from the point that was destined for the top corner of the net until Gibson flashed the glove to rob the rookie.
“I saw [Bourque] when he was winding up [for the shot] and he did a good job to get it through traffic,” said Gibson of the game-saving stop. “I was able to shift over and pick it off. I was being aggressive and had enough time to react to it.”
Another key save for Gibson came with 31.2 seconds remaining in the second period. David Van der Gulik, already with two goals in the game, was bidding for the hat trick to put BU up 3-1. Gibson, though, flashed the glove once again, this time from his back. Staying within a goal, NU tied the game early in the third.
“I got the rebound and shot it on the ice then got another rebound,” said Van der Gulik of the shot. “Gibson was in the right position with his glove and was fortunate for that.”
“There were a couple of goals tonight that I wanted back,” said Gibson. “So I thought I owed it to the guys to make a couple of big saves.”
Gibson’s counterpart for BU, Curry, as well was forced to stand tall in the nets. He stonewalled Yale Lewis on a partial breakaway early in the second. And after Northeastern tied the game early in the third, Curry stopped a backhander by Ray Ortiz from point-blank range.
“It was kind of the Gibson-Curry show tonight,” said NU coach Bruce Crowder. “It was an exciting game to watch.”
A slow opening quickly changed to end-to-end hockey once Boston University got on the board at 13:18. Van der Gulik banged home the rebound of a Peter MacArthur deflection as the puck sat untouched at the left post.
Less than four minutes later, Northeastern tied things on the power play when Jared Mudryk carbon-copied MacArthur, gathering the rebound of a Donny Grover shot and pushing it past the fallen Curry into the open net at 17:06 to knot the game.
Despite holding a decisive 10-5 advantage in shots and territorially, BU was unable to muster any more offense, thanks mostly to solid goaltending by Gibson, and headed to the locker room tied at one.
“The first period was terrific for us and played well,” said BU coach Jack Parker, “but we came out tied 1-1 so that wasn’t a good sign.”
The Terriers wasted little time, though, extending the lead in the second. Van der Gulik scored 40 seconds into the middle frame, wheeling from behind the net and firing a low, quick shot that surprised Gibson and sailed right through his legs to give BU a 2-1 lead.
Throughout the period BU had the better chances to break the game open but constantly ran into Gibson.
As time expired in the second, BU’s Kenny Roche was whistled for obstruction-hooking. That, combined with an ill-advised Bryan Miller penalty for hitting from behind 28 seconds into the third, gave Northeastern an extended 5-on-3 and set up the tying goal.
The Huskies had no problem finding Mike Morris below the left faceoff dot for a quick one-timer into a wide-open net to tie the game at 2 just 51 seconds into the third.
Though both teams had ample chances to end the game in regulation, neither could crack the goaltending battle between Curry and Gibson and the game headed to overtime.
In the extra frame, similar to the Beanpot final, referee Scott Hansen wasn’t afraid to whistle penalties. NU’s Bryan Esner took what Crowder called a “real dumb, dumb penalty” for crosschecking with 2:11 remaining. After Gibson’s robbery of Bourque, BU’s John Laliberte was whistled for contact to the head to even things out.
Though NU would get one last chance with a faceoff in the offensive zone and a 5-on-4 man advantage with less than 10 seconds remaining, BU won the draw and quickly cleared the puck, forcing each team to settle for the tie.
Northeastern can no longer catch fourth-place Maine for a home-ice playoff berth meaning the Huskies will travel for the Hockey East quarterfinals.
BU, grabbing only one point, missed the opportunity to pull into a tie with New Hampshire, remaining a point back, and is still only two points ahead of third-place Boston College.
BU and NU will complete their home-and-home series Saturday night at Agganis Arena.
“There’s not much to choose from these two teams,” said Parker of now three barnburner games with NU, “and Saturday we’ll go right back at it.”