CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The race for home ice in Hockey East just got a little bit muddier.
Boston College was 64 seconds away from clinching the final home ice spot on Friday night, but a goal by Northeasterns Wade MacLeod with 1:04 remaining in overtime gave the Huskies a 3-2 victory over the Eagles.
It also made Saturday nights rematch at Northeasterns Matthews Arena a winner-take-all game for the final home ice spot in next weekends Hockey East quarterfinals.
If the Huskies can win on Saturday, theyll catapult both BC and Providence, which closed its regular season on Friday night with a 2-0 loss at Boston University, into fourth place and join New Hampshire, BU and Vermont as hosts in the opening round of the playoffs.
All is not lost for the Eagles, which can still clinch home ice with either a win or tie on Saturday. BC couldve sewed that up on Friday night, though, by escaping overtime with a tie.
Thats a real disappointing loss for our club, no question, said a dead-panned Jerry York. The BC bench boss couldnt be privy to the fact that a tie on Friday wouldve been just as powerful as a win in the home ice battle. What made that decisive was Providences loss to BU. That game, though, wasnt concluded when the Eagles were in overtime as it started 30 minutes later as the leagues TV game of the week.
BC, therefore, came out playing for the victory as opposed to a tie in overtime and nearly got the win. Both Pat Gannon and Dan Bertram had whacks at a puck that lay in the crease with Northeastern goaltender Brad Thiessen (25 saves) caught out of position. Neither could handle the bouncing puck, though, sending Northeastern onto the attack.
Once inside the offensive zone, Huskies defenseman Lou Liotti got a shot on net that Eagles netminder John Muse (31 saves) turned aside. Chris Donovan snapped a second shot from the slot the rebound of which landed on MacLeods stick at the right post.
It was just sitting there for me, said MacLeod. I just kind of out-waited Muse for a second until I got around his pad and threw it in.
The goal capped a spirited effort by the Huskies that saw them overcome an early goal in the games opening second and a late goal by BC defenseman Mike Brennan that forced the overtime.
It took the Eagles just 11 seconds to get on the board. Off the opening faceoff, sophomore Matt Price curled thru the middle of the neutral zone and took a perfect pass from Dan Bertram and skated in alone burying a shot between Thiessens legs.
Northeastern, though, responded. Despite being unable to get the equalizer before the end of the first, the Huskies balanced the play and the frame finished with both team mustering six shots on goal.
In the second, penalties slowed the flow much of the frame, but as each team returned to 5-on-5 late in the period, the game opened up. Its rare that you would say this in recent years, but the wide open offensive game seemed to favor Northeastern as Thiessen looked solid in net and the NU offense stormed Muse at the other end.
That led to the Huskies evening the game with 3:44 remaining in the second on a Greg Costa rebound goal and NU wouldve taken the lead a minute later if not for a stellar Muse glove save on a Donovan breakaway.
Northeastern controlled play throughout the third and grabbed the first lead of the game with 13:16 remaining. MacLeod scored his first goal on the night with a blast from the top of the left circle that beat Muse between the legs. But BC responded to force overtime when Brennan blasted home a puck through a screen with 4:58 remaining in regulation.
The Huskies wouldnt quit and for their effort earned the second overtime road victory of the season against Boston College and now control their destiny in the battle for home ice.
No matter what happens [on Saturday], this is a great opportunity for our [young] guys to go through, said NU head coach Greg Cronin. Its a playoff mentality. Weve put ourselves in a great position to battle for home ice.