BOSTON — It was a combination of a band of brothers and strong goaltending that helped the top-ranked Boston College Eagles soar over the Northeastern University Huskies 2-0 in their gritty, high drama season debut at Matthews Arena Saturday night in front of a crowd of nearly 5,000.
The win puts the Eagles on top of Hockey East as Northeastern sits at the bottom of the pack after dropping both games in their opening series this weekend.
“It was an early season game but I felt like it was played with a playoff intensity,” said Boston College coach Jerry York. “It was a battle. Both teams were really into the game. The venue and the crowd were terrific and both goaltenders were on top of their game.”
“It should’ve been an 8-7 game tonight, but both goalies made incredible saves,” Northeastern coach Greg Cronin concurred.
John Muse and Chris Rawlings collectively had nearly 70 saves with 35 and 33, respectively.
After 53 minutes of missed opportunities and scoreless play, Boston College finally got on the board thanks to a power play goal from a pair of brothers. Joe Whitney sent a sharp pass to his younger brother Steven who was posted in front of the left side of the net. Steven tapped the puck past Rawlings to give the Eagles their first goal of the season.
The Eagles’ second goal came with ten seconds to play as Brian Gibbons scored on an empty net with help from teammate Philip Samuelsson.
Play was even through the first period as both teams notched 12 shots on goal apiece. Despite outskating the Huskies and controlling the puck for the majority of the period, Boston College had a little trouble with accuracy as they tallied 10 shots off-target.
The second period got off to a more physical start, especially for Boston College, who picked up six penalties and gave the Huskies five power play opportunities, including one 5-on-3 advantage. Tommy Cross was especially physical, as he sat out twice for roughing and tripping.
The Huskies made more contact and got better looks in the second period as they outshot the Eagles 16-11. Still, they were unable to capitalize on their efforts. Arguably their best opportunity to score came on a two-on-one rush down the ice, but the play was blown dead by the referees as NU’s Wade MacLeod was slow getting back on his feet after a hard hit.
Despite the loss, Northeastern learned a lot about themselves after their performance. The lessons learned dealt mainly with their age. With 11 new players on the roster, Cronin admitted he was a little nervous heading into the game.
“I looked at the roster and saw 11 new guys which is really startling,” he said. “One of the worst teams you want to face with a young team is BC, but we also said it was a great opportunity to evaluate where we are in terms of personnel. I’m not happy with the loss, but I am happy that we have a good grip on what we need to do to become a better hockey team. We were very loose and calm before tonight’s game.”
“I thought we did a lot of things right tonight up until the end,” said NU veteran forward Tyler McNeely. “We’re a young team but we went out there and played Northeastern hockey.”