BOSTON — The Northeastern University Huskies extended their winning streak to five games as they edged out No. 8 Boston College, 3-2, Friday night in front of a sellout crowd at Matthews Arena. Huskies veteran Wade MacLeod led the pack with a goal and an assist, vaulting Northeastern to fourth place in Hockey East, one point ahead of BU and UMass-Amherst.
“It was a really great college hockey game and I was happy to win it,” said Northeastern coach Greg Cronin. “It was a really exciting atmosphere and a good game. I thought our power play was good and our penalty kill did a good job. (Goalie) Chris Rawlings played well too.”
The Huskies were the first to score in the first two minutes of the game when Tyler McNeely led a breakaway down the ice, being chased by an Eagles’ defenseman, sending a quick unassisted shot past BC goalie John Muse. Despite outshooting the Huskies 14-6 and being given two power plays, the Eagles were unsuccessful in turning many of their close calls into points.
Seven minutes into the second, the Eagles tied the score when Joe Whitney passed across the net to Pat Mullane, who tipped it in past Rawlings, picking up his sixth season goal.
Three minutes later, Brian Gibbons picked up four minutes in the penalty box for charging and contact to the head after slamming MacLeod into the boards. It took a few seconds for MacLeod to return to his feet, but his play went unscathed for the remainder of the game.
Seizing their opportunity one minute into their lengthy power play, Garret Vermeersch found Kyle Kraemer on the right circle red dot, and Kraemer fired a rocket past Muse, putting the Huskies up 2-1 and notching his 12th goal of the season. MacLeod picked up an assist on the play as well.
Just as Gibbons’ penalties expired, MacLeod sought his revenge on Gibbons as he handled the puck down the entire left side of the rink and snuck a sneaky flip by Muse to make it a two-goal game. The unassisted goal marked the tenth point for MacLeod in his last five outings.
“We just keep working hard,” said MacLeod. “I know our lines are clicking and our power play is doing well right now and I think that’s where a lot of the points are being generated from. I just keep trying to shoot the puck at the net and good things are happening.”
Muse seemed to settle in during the third period, making tough saves and shutting out the Huskies for the remainder of the game.
The Eagles’ offense started to gain momentum when Chris Kreider sent a hard shot from just past the blue line, blanking Rawlings and cutting the Huskies lead to 3-2. Ben Smith and Jimmy Hayes both earned assists on the play and Kreider also picked up his eighth goal of the season.
Rawlings put up another solid performance for the Huskies, only allowing seven goals during the five-game win streak. Against the Eagles, he made an impressive 38 saves.
The penalty kill keeps proving to be a strong point for the Huskies, as they shut down all four of the Eagles’ power plays. Jake Newton has had a standout season thus far on the Huskies blue line, making key defensive plays and notching seven goals so far.
Boston College coach Jerry York knows his squad has some food for thought before Sunday’s rematch against the Huskies.
“Clearly, we can’t give up the offensive chances we did tonight,” said York. “We just have to be more thorough in the offensive zone. I though we turned the puck over a lot tonight. They (NU) are a much improved team from what we saw back in November.”
Both teams enjoy a day off tomorrow, and will face off again on Sunday at Boston College for a 3 p.m. game. The match-up will also air on ESPNU.