BOSTON — Matthews Arena has not sold out since 2005, ironically when Northeastern played Boston College to a 1-1 tie. This time with a once-again packed barn the Huskies took down the No. 1 Eagles 4-3 in front of 5,407 fans thanks to two shorthanded strikes and good goaltending by Brad Thiessen.
“This place is a special arena when it’s packed, and it just really gives you a reflection on the potential of this place, and I think a strong reflection of where the program is going,” said coach Greg Cronin
Boston College silenced the crowd for a while, striking first when Joe Whitney threw a puck towards the net that went off the skates of Northeastern freshmen Alex Tuckerman to the back of the net for the power-play goal.
“It’s just one of those things, I guess. It’s been kind of frustrating to have those happen — I don’t know how many real clean goals we’ve given up this year so far,” Thiessen said of the own goal.
“We knew going into it you can’t give BC power plays; the irony is that the power-play goal they got went off our guys skate.” Cronin said.
Northeastern battled back and nine seconds later while the BC goal was still being announced over the loudspeaker, Dennis McCauley took a feed in the slot from Ryan Ginand and buried it past BC netminder John Muse. Also collecting an assist was Kyle Kraemer.
Senior forward Dennis McCauley chalked up the goals to “good chemistry.”
“Me, Kraemer and Ginand started in the playoffs in Vermont last season, we were playing well up there, we had a couple of goals up there and we’ve decided to carry that over to the season and do our best to do it, and that’s what were trying to do.”
NU added to the lead less than three minutes later on a five-on-three when Joe Vitale attempted a centering feed towards the slot. The puck bounced off a number of players before sliding past Muse to the give the Huskies the lead. David Strathman and Wade MacLeod got assists.
But Boston College would not let the first period end without tying the game, and with 43 seconds remaining on the clock NU added its second own goal of the game. The goal was credited to Kyle Kucharski, his second of the season, with Ben Smith and Tim Filangieri both getting assists.
In the second period the Huskies once again took the lead when Chris Donovan found the back of the net on a shorthanded breakaway bid, beating Muse glove-side. Donovan got the feed from Greg Costa just past the red line and skated untouched until the goal was scored. Dan Nycholat also got an assist.
Once again the Eagles battled back to tie the game on a breakaway of their own. After a Northeastern defensive miscommunication, freshman Barry Almeida grabbed the bad pass off the boards and while being hooked for a penalty, was able to rip off a shot. Thiessen made the initial save but the puck rolled over his pads to the back of the net, tying the game at 3.
After a delay due to not-fully-frozen ice that led the officials to wait an extra three minutes to begin the third period (even then, there were still puddles on the ice when the puck dropped), Boston College won the initial faceoff and attempted a cross-ice pass, which hit a puddle and died right in front of Joe Vitale.
Vitale took the puck right at the net and before Muse could get set, ripped a shot that hit the netting only 14 seconds into the period, the second shorthanded goal of the game. BC coach Jerry York and his team were upset with the play, but the referees stuck with the goal call.
“It was kind of a funny goal. Unfortunately for BC his pass just caught a little puddle of water. On the same note, my shot caught a big puddle of water too, we just got the lucky end of that bounce. I was trying to go high glove but ended up going five-hole, so it’s just one of those things,” said Vitale.
For Vitale, they were his first two goals of the season.
“You know, it’s funny. I was looking at the scoresheet before the game and he had one point in three games. He is our offensive catalyst, he showed up tonight. He was visible every shift … his effort was outstanding.” said Cronin.
For York, it was a tough loss.
“We played a pretty solid game in all areas. Northeastern has a good club. It was two good teams battling. You know, rub of the green, it happens,” he said. “It was probably one faceoff I wish we had lost to start the third period, because it was right back into the puddle of water and the kid walks in alone. But things happen during the course of the game; hopefully we benefit somewhere down the road with that,”
For the Huskies, it was their first win over a top-ranked team since knocking off then-No. 1 Michigan during the 2004-05 campaign, a year before Cronin took the helm. The Huskies also extended their winning streak to three games during this young season. Northeastern travels north to Maine for a pair next weekend while Boston College hosts Vermont on Friday for a game.