BOSTON — When Boston College took a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission many of the Northeastern University faithful were only thinking one thing, “Here we go again.”
But Friday was different, the Huskies never gave up and came out flying in the second and scored a goal, then kept up the energy in the third and grabbed a goal. Then, in overtime, Northeastern shook up Hockey East as Denis Chisholm grabbed a loose puck in front of the net to give Northeastern the win.
The crowd of 3,357 at Matthews Arena erupted in cheers, as it was the first time since Jan. 3, 2004, that Northeastern beat crosstown rival BC and the first time in head coach Greg Cronin’s tenure behind the bench.
Cronin was humble with the win, “It was a huge win, I don’t want to minimize the win, particularly for my young tenure … but we’ve got BU tomorrow night, and that’s part of the process is that you put your two points in the bank and move on.”
Said Boston College head coach Jerry York, “I thought we looked rusty from the layoff, but Northeastern played well and hard, we didn’t create a lot of real good offensive scoring chances … from our perspective they prevented us from getting a lot of real good quality chances to score.”
BC opened up the scoring at 6:31 when Joe Rooney netted his first shorthanded goal of the year, his sixth tally of the season. After a Northeastern defensive miscue in the neutral zone, Rooney took the pass from Benn Ferriero and nailed the shot to the top of the net, sending the water bottle flying.
The Eagles added a power-play goal at 14:53 of the first when Ben Smith took a shot on Northeastern goalie Brad Thiessen on which Thiessen made the initial save but the puck trickled in behind him. Anthony Aiello and Kyle Kucharski got assists on the power-play goal.
“[Thiessen] didn’t play well early … but I’ve said this all along, he is one of those guys that is unflappable and calm and poise,” said Cronin. “Everybody knew the second goal was a bad goal — you can’t give up that goal … but as a reflection as him as a person he responded, he came out and shut them out the rest of the way.”
Once the puck dropped in the second there was a change in the way Northeastern was playing. The passes were connecting and the shots seemed harder. NU hit paydirt when at 12:48 freshmen David Strathman sniped to the top corner for the power-play goal. Ray Ortiz and Steve Birnstill got assists.
The rest of the second period would end with neither team getting many more quality opportunities.
Coming out in the third NU seemed to have a chip on its collective shoulder and would not give up. Even when BC goalie Cory Schneider turned away shot after shot Northeastern kept pressuring. Finally, the puck found its way in when Dennis McCauley threw it towards the net and, after bouncing off the far post, settled in the back of the net. Jacques Perreault and Jimmy Russo collected assists on the broken play.
BC and Northeastern traded opportunities thereafter, but BC’s first line of Boyle-Ferriero-Rooney was effectively eliminated by the tireless work of the Lewis-Ortiz-Esner line up front and Steve Birnstill and Louis Liotti paired up in the back.
Said Cronin, “You gotta give huge credit to Ray Ortiz, Yale Lewis, Bryan Esner, Steve Birnstill and Louis Liotti, because they were matched up with that line and they did a terrific job all night long.”
Said Liotti, “It was my job to cover Boyle and I did my best I could with him … we just stay on ‘em and not give him a lot of time, you just gotta take away his time and space.”
In overtime, BC took the initial advantage, but the shots went wide. Halfway through the OT Yale Lewis took a shot on net and Schneider made the initial save.
“I got lucky, found the puck, and shot it in the net,” Chisholm said after the game. “Every kid dreams of scoring a goal in overtime and winning the game against a big team like Boston College; this is [my] number one [goal ever], this is my first time with an overtime winner.”
Northeastern’s win was its sixth on the season, doubling last year’s mark with three months left to play.
On the game Northeastern took 24 shots and Cory Schneider made 21 saves. Boston College took 16 shots and Brad Thiessen made 14 saves. Northeastern was 1-3 on the power play and Boston College was 1-2.
Boyle was playing without the captain’s “C” tonight and York said, “Strictly an academic issue, straight not going to class enough for my liking, wasn’t anything else, just not going to class … I’m gonna wait a month and see how the class attendance is.”
Next up for Northeastern (6-10-2, 3-8-2) is another cross-town battle as the Huskies skip across town to take on Boston University at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night. Boston College (9-6-1, 6-4-1) has a tango with Providence on Sunday afternoon at Conte Forum.