CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Anything worth doing is worth doing twice.
Boston College’s Chris Collins proved that Saturday as he scored two breakaway goals using an identical move, the second of which proved to be the game-winner with 3:49 remaining as the Eagles beat a pesky Northeastern team, 5-3.
“I don’t really have much else in my bag here,” laughed Collins, who dragged the puck to his backhand to move NU goaltender Mike Geragosian (28 saves), both times sliding it past the fallen netminder. “It works really well for me so for the time being I’m going to stick with it.”
Collins first goal, a shorthanded goal, gave BC a 2-1 lead in the second, while the second gave the Eagles the victory. Brock Bradford netted an insurance goal with 1:12 remaining to account for the final.
Collins spoiled a stellar underdog performance from Northeastern, which consistently answered Boston College in every facet of the game.
“I’m just disappointed,” said Northeastern coach Greg Cronin, whose club earlier in the season tied the Eagles on home ice, that despite now holding a 1-8-1 overall record. “It was an exciting game to coach and an exciting game to play in. When you really think about it, it was two [defensive] mistakes (that led to BC’s fourth and fifth goals) that were the difference in the game.”
Both teams found success on the power play, with Northeastern scoring all three of its goals with the man advantage and the Eagles scoring twice with the man advantage. Of concern for BC is the fact that the club has allowed three power-play goals in back-to-back games, having done so on Tuesday in a 5-3 loss to Harvard.
“Special teams is something that we’re really spending a lot of time on to try to create a better situation for ourselves whether defending or we’re on the power play,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “It was good to see the [power play] get some goals tonight, though.”
Collins’ heroics were matched by junior Brian Boyle. After Tuesday’s loss to Harvard, Boyle said that he needed to become more of a presence in front of the net on the power play, and doing so on Saturday paid dividends.
“It’s a result of us having more traffic in front of the net,” said Boyle, whose presence in the slot led to two power-play goals for the Eagles. “It’s been working well so we’re going to stick with it.”
The first period saw each team net a goal on the power play, and the fact that BC held only a slight edge in shots, 11-9, was indicative of the balanced play at both ends of the ice.
Northeastern took the lead when Yale Lewis, in only his third game of the season since returning from injury, buried the rebound of a Joe Vitale shot from the right wing at 7:44 to give NU the early 1-0 lead.
BC evened things, though, when Boyle played his role on the power play perfectly. Using his 6-foot-7 frame, Boyle parked himself in front of Geragosian and deflected a wrist shot from Brian O’Hanley inside the right post at 15:31 to even things heading to the second.
The Eagles took their first lead of the game early in the second, when Collins scored shorthanded. He picked the pocket of Jimmy Russo at the Huskies’ offensive blueline and glided in alone, pushing the shot between Geragosian’s left leg and the post at 5:46 for a 2-1 lead.
As physical play picked up in the period, so did penalties, and it was a 4-on-3 power play goal for Northeastern that evened the score. Brian Swiniarski pushed a loose puck home in a scrum around the cage of BC goaltender Cory Schneider (28 saves) to pull the Huskies even heading into the third.
More power-play action in the third led the two clubs to again swap tallies with the man advantage. Boyle notched his second of the game at 9:15, roofing a Collins pass over the glove of Geragosian to give BC back the advantage, 3-2.
NU answered, though, when Joe Santilli walked out of the left corner and fired a shot through traffic that seemed to have eyes, finding the upper right corner to even the game with 8:40 to play.
That set up Collins’ game winner, Bradford’s insurance tally and, more importantly, the BC win.
“You have to give [Northeastern] full credit,” said York. “They played very well and forced us into quite a hockey game. They battled and it was a hard fought, tough game.”
BC improves to 4-1-1 in league play and moves into third place in the Hockey East, leapfrogging Maine, whose game Saturday against the US Under-18 team counts only as exhibition. Northeastern, despite another solid effort, drops to 1-5-1 in the conference.
BC returns to action on Saturday when they will host Merrimack. Northeastern is idle until next Sunday when they travel to New Hampshire.