BOSTON — What do Northeastern forward Mike Morris and Walt Disney have in common?
On Saturday night, both helped Northeastern upset the Boston University Terriers.
Morris’ contribution to the effort was notching both goals for Northeastern in the 2-1 victory, the second of which head coach Bruce Crowder called one of the prettiest goals he’s seen this season.
Walt Disney’s contribution, no doubt, was a little more obscure.
Twelve days ago, after Northeastern lost a heartbreaking game to the Terriers, 3-2, in overtime of the Beanpot championship game, Crowder used the Disney classic, “The Lion King,” to help his team refocus for the season-ending home stretch.
Said Crowder, whose Huskies in the past have historically wilted after the Beanpot, particularly after their past two championship game losses. “There’s a spot in ‘The Lion King’ where the lion has to decide whether or not he’s going to go back and the monkey hits him over the head with the stick. The Lion asks, ‘What did you do that for?’ and the monkey says, ‘It doesn’t matter because it’s in the past.’
“That’s what we said. The Beanpot is in the past.”
Since losing the Beanpot, Crowder’s Huskies are now 2-1-1, which includes taking three out of four points this week in a home-and-home series with the Terriers. On Saturday, the effort of Northeastern was bar none one of its best on the season, limiting BU to a low number of quality shots on goal, particularly when the game was in the balance in the third period.
“I thought Northeastern beat us to the puck all night,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “They were much quicker then us going after the puck in their end and they were much in getting to the puck in our end.”
In addition to Northeastern’s tight-checking style that limited BU’s chances, the goaltending of Keni Gibson (27 saves), which was matched by that of BU’s John Curry (26 saves), gave the 5,828 in attendance plenty of top quality saves to watch when either team could muster scoring chances.
“I loved the way both goaltenders played tonight,” said Parker. “It wasn’t an issue of us getting out-goaltended tonight.”
“[Gibson] was definitely in the zone tonight,” said Crowder. “He’s been our team MVP as much as [Jason] Guerriero who is like team MVP A and Morris who is team MVP B.”
Gibson was particularly sharp late in the second period when he was called upon to stop BU’s Kenny Roche on a partial breakaway. Roche mustered a shot that Gibson stopped as he fell to the ground stacking his pads. With the puck in the air, Gibson then got his skate on it to keep the puck from going in the net and preserved the NU lead at the time.
The lead came courtesy of a Morris power-play goal at 10:05 of the first period. After keeping the puck in at the right point, Tim Judy walked to the middle and fed Morris at the top of the left faceoff dot for a one-time shot that beat Curry cleanly giving NU a 1-0 lead.
BU, which entered the game 0-10-0 when trailing after two periods, looked as if it might turn the decision around in the third for the first time this season. Brad Zancanaro finished off a two-on-one with David Van der Gulik redirecting a pass over the right shoulder of Curry at 2:36 of the third to knot the game.
That, though, only built the stage on which Morris would once again shine with a spectacular goal with 14:23 remaining that turned out to be the difference.
Morris and Guerriero worked the puck below the goal line against the BU defender. Sensing the chance for open ice, Morris cut to the front of the net and snapped off a quick one-timer of the Guerriero pass that found the little space Curry offered for the eventual game winner.
“I don’t think I had a great angle,” said Morris of the deciding goal. “I was just trying to get the puck to the net.”
BU was not without the opportunity to tie the game. With less than 10 minutes remaining, Jekab Redlihs got control of a bouncing puck in the high slot with Gibson down and out of the Northeastern net. Redlihs did exactly what he wanted to — get off a quick shot — but in doing so push the puck ever so slightly forcing it to clang off the left post.
The NU win, if it did nothing else, successfully muddied the waters at the top of the Hockey East standings heading into the final week of play. BU was unable to capitalize on the 5-2 loss of first-place New Hampshire to Boston College on Saturday. The Terriers, thus, remain two points in back of UNH and will finish the season next weekend with a home-and-home series beginning Thursday in Boston.
With BC’s win, the Eagles catapult over UNH into second, one point ahead of the Terriers and one behind the first-place Wildcats.
Still not to be forgotten, as well, is Maine, a 5-3 winner of Massachusetts-Lowell on Saturday. The Black Bears are now three points behind UNH, meaning that only three points separates the top four teams in Hockey East.
Northeastern, with the win, climbs within a point of Lowell for fifth place and finish the season next weekend with a home-and-home series against Massachusetts beginning Friday night in Amherst.