BOSTON — Hockey East, meet Greg Cronin. Again.
The former Maine assistant coach, in his first-year at the helm for Northeastern, made his home debut Saturday night against Boston College. His Huskies scrapped their way to a riveting 1-1 tie in front of a raucous sellout crowd at Matthews Arena.
The teams combined for 35 penalties, nine power plays and six 10-minute misconduct infractions.
“(There were) a lot of little fights, which is not something you see in a lot of college hockey games,” said forward Carter Lee. “That’s the game (Cronin) loves. He loves it. I think the kids that don’t play like that are going to start to real quick. He likes that kind of game. He likes the grit, the hustle and the hard work. I think everybody on this team is prepared to do that.”
But, in the end, neither team could figure out the opposing goalie. Eagle sophomore Cory Schneider made 23 saves, while his Northeastern counterpart, junior Adam Geragosian, stopped 29 shots.
Both teams had opportunities to end overtime early.
On the first shift of the extra frame, Northeastern senior defenseman Chuck
Tomes sent a wrist shot inches past the far post. Then, with just 15 seconds left, Eagle senior defenseman Peter Harold rang a wrist shot off the near post.
“I thought it was a real good Hockey East battle,” said Boston College (1-1-1, 0-0-1 Hockey East) coach Jerry York. “I thought the game was a real battle. We got the first goal, they came and answered us. It was a gritty, hard-nosed, grind-it-out type of game. Both teams had good chances. The goaltenders kept it at 1-1.”
Boston College sophomore Dan Bertram gave his team a 1-0 edge four minutes into the game after Northeastern coughed up the puck, negating a shorthanded rush. As Huskies junior defender Steve Birnstill sped back to cover the 5-11, 188-pound Bertram, he tapped a pass from junior Joe Rooney past Geragosian.
Northeastern (0-2-1, 0-0-1) tied the game four minutes into the second period. Freshman forward Ryan Ginand’s persistent forecheck knocked the puck off a BC defender’s stick and behind the net to Lee. The sophomore forward hit junior defenseman Brian Deeth, who fired his shot through Schneider’s legs.
“I told the guys after the second period, ‘Who do you notice the most out there?’ They all said Ginand. Because he’s active away from the puck,” Cronin said. “He’s always getting himself into position to pick loose pucks up. He’s got built-in second effort to his game and you can’t teach that. That kid’s just has an internal motor. He’s an inspiring guy to watch.”
Both coaches marveled at the atmosphere in the old barn, built in 1909.
“The crowd in this building makes it special,” York said. “It’s an old building but it’s got a lot of history and when they can fill it, it’s a great environment for both teams to play in.”
“The crowd was awesome,” Cronin said. “What a really special place. It’s real magical. To be on the bench and feel that energy I’ve been in every building in North America for god’s sake and some in Europe but I’ve never been in a building like that where the crowd is right on top of you.
“It would have been so exciting, if Tomes scored that goal on the first shift in overtime,” he continued. “I think that roof would have come off the building. That’s why I came here. I think this place is a sleeping giant.”
Boston College will host Maine and Providence College next Friday and Saturday night, while Northeastern will travel to Rensselaer Friday and hosts the US-Under-18 team Sunday.