BOSTON — Boston University almost saw its home opening celebration ruined, but came back from a two-goal deficit to defeat Northeastern, 4-3. Pete MacArthur scored twice in the third period to give BU a 3-2 lead and, following a Kyle Kraemer goal to tie it, Kenny Roche got the game-winner with 56 seconds left.
MacArthur, Roche, and new linemate Eric Thomassian all factored in the three third-period goals. Thomassian replaced Bryan Ewing, who suffered a dislocated left shoulder. Brandon Yip also left the game, sidelined with a separated right shoulder. Both are expected to be out “for a while.”
The home-opening pregame ceremonies featured banners raised to celebrate 2006 Beanpot and Hockey East titles. MacArthur’s second tally gave Terrier fans something further to celebrate, the 10,000th goal in BU history.
Coach Jack Parker downplayed the milestone, saying dryly, “It means we’ve had hockey for a long time.”
For BU (1-0-1), it was a second straight slow start. The Terriers, ranked sixth, tied their first game with Rensselaer, 4-4.
“Maybe we were reading our press clippings and thinking we were pretty good and we needed to make some pretty plays and doodle around,” Parker said. “Nobody can do that anymore against anybody in Division I. You’ve got to come ready to play, ready to beat people to pucks.”
Shifting to a football analogy, he said, “You’ve got to come ready to block and tackle. We don’t want to block and tackle. We want to make thirty-yard passes and flea-flicker plays instead of playing solid hockey.”
With the win, BU is now undefeated in its last six home openers, going 5-0-1. The Terriers have also now won nine of their last 10 contests at Agganis Arena.
The loss was a tough one for Northeastern (0-2-1), playing its third straight road game against a Top 10 conference foe. After hosting Union on Saturday, the Huskies travel to Michigan for two and then play a home-and-home with New Hampshire. As a result, taking a point out of a hostile building would have gone a long way.
“They’re a heckuva team,” NU coach Greg Cronin said. “That’s why they’re a preseason Top Five team. They battled back. They’re the Hockey East champion and they’re a champion for a reason. From a league perspective, it was a heckuva Hockey East game.”
That said, Cronin liked a lot of what he saw, especially compared to last season’s 3-24-7 club.
“Clearly, we’re back,” he said. “We’ve got a heckuva team. There were  freshmen or sophomores in the lineup led by our goaltender. There are a lot of things to build off for us. Obviously, it’s a lot easier to build off if you win the game, but we’ve got an exciting group of players and it’s going to be a fun year to coach.”
The national anthem had scarcely stopped echoing when Northeastern grabbed the lead just 36 seconds into the contest. Highly touted freshman Chad Costello broke in on BU goaltender John Curry and from near the right crease centered a pass to Dennis McCauley, who beat Curry low.
BU then went on a 1:49 five-on-three, but goaltender Brad Thiessen looked sharp. The Huskies not only killed the two-man disadvantage; they also picked up a BU penalty near the end of the kill.
On the resulting power play, Northeastern widened the lead to 2-0. McCauley carried the puck over the blue line and fired a slapshot that caromed on the right to Joe Vitale. Vitale, with a wide open net to shoot at, just had to avoid the diving Curry for his second goal of the season. Thiessen was credited with an assist for the second straight game.
The period ended with the Huskies having outshot BU, 14-8, en route to the two-goal lead and a clear territorial advantage.
The Terriers came back strong in the second, but could only narrow the margin to 2-1 because of Thiessen. The freshman made a point blank save on John McCarthy, foiled Thomassian on a breakaway, and then outdid himself at 12:34, stoning Thomassian on a rebound shot in which the goaltender appeared to be dead to rights.
The Terriers did get one past him soon after, though, on a John McCarthy deflection of a Sean Sullivan shot.
Despite a 17-9 BU shot advantage in the third, it was quite evenly played with plenty of chances for both sides.
At 8:35, the Terriers finally evened the score. Roche shot from down low and Thiessen made a nice toe save on the deflection. With bodies flying in the crease, MacArthur put in the rebound.
It then became Curry’s turn to shine. He stymied the Huskies during a flurry at the 11-minute mark and then stoned Joe Santilli’s labeled shot from the slot.
With 2:44 remaining, MacArthur put in a rebound of Roche’s shot from the point, setting the school 10,000-goal milestone.
Less than a minute later, however, Kraemer put away a loose puck in the crease for the equalizer.
The see-saw finally ended with Roche’s backhanded game-winner at 56 seconds coming off a rebound of a MacArthur shot.
Northeastern hosts Union on Saturday in the Huskies’ home opener. BU travels to Merrimack.