BOSTON — It was a see-saw battle, but in many ways neither coach liked to see what he saw.
After a sluggish start, No. 7 Boston University fought back from an early two-goal deficit to take a 4-2 lead, only to allow Northeastern to tie it in early in the third period. In front a light crowd of 3,636 at Agganis Arena, the Terriers somehow prevailed 5-4 despite being outshot by a 41-20 margin. It was BU’s sixth come-from-behind win this season, topping their total for all of 2009-10.
Alex Chiasson and Charlie Coyle led the scoring with a goal and two assists for the winners, teaming up on the game-winning power-play goal with 3:27 remaining. Kieran Millan made 37 saves. For Northeastern, Wade MacLeod was the standout with a goal on eight shots.
“I talked to [Northeastern] coach [Greg] Cronin after the game, and I said that they should shoot the two of us for calling us college hockey coaches,” Terriers coach Jack Parker said. “I’ve seen them play, and they’ve played much better than they did tonight. … They let us take it over, and then we got up 4-2 and let them take it back. There was no thoroughness for 60 minutes.”
Despite that Millan gave up four goals, Parker deemed him to be the No. 1 star of the game. “I thought Kieran played extremely well tonight. He made some huge saves; they got some great chances. He had to keep that game close for us, and he did.”
For Cronin, it was yet another close-but-not-quite game for his young team. “Obviously, we’re disappointed,” he said. “I thought we started out really well. BU was able to come back with four straight goals, and we kind of saw a snapshot of why they were No. 1 in the country [earlier this season].
“I was happy with our team for coming back, but the penalty-killing goal in the third period really pissed me off. We failed to clear the puck a number of times, and we had a couple of reliable defenseman make a couple of foolish decisions down low, and it cost us the game.”
The Terriers got off to a terrible start, falling behind 2-0 in the first period for the third time in the last four games. The Huskies took a 1-0 lead at 6:49, when freshman Brodie Reed was left unmarked in the right-wing circle. After receiving a pass from Mike McLaughlin, Reed beat Terriers goalie Kieran Millan high on the glove side for his second collegiate goal.
It got worse for the Terriers just 71 seconds later. With BU looking flat in its own zone, Northeastern capitalized. Steve Silva took a shot from the right-wing side, and it caromed over to Garrett Vermeersch at the far post for the easy rebound goal.
The shots continued to be incredibly lopsided in the visitors’ favor. At one point, it was a stunning 14-1 margin. Regardless, BU got the next goal. On a nice give-and-go on the right wing, Coyle and Garrett Noonan advanced toward the net before Coyle beat Huskies goalie Chris Rawlings on the short side.
The real turning point came a minute or two later. BU’s third line of Ross Gaudet, Andrew Glass and Wade Megan dominated play in the Huskies’ end but couldn’t score. Just before going off the ice, Glass fed it to fourth-liner Ryan Santana, fresh off the bench. Santana skated through the worn-down Northeastern defenders for a shot before burying his own rebound. It was the sophomore’s first collegiate goal.
Buoyed by the comeback, BU came out much stronger in the second period. At 4:41, the Terriers got a pretty goal when co-captain Joe Pereira brought the puck in on the right wing before dishing to Sahir Gill, who crossed it to Corey Trivino for the nice finish on the backhander.
Just 47 seconds later, BU returned the earlier favor by going up by two goals. On this one, Alex Chiasson carried it on the left wing while freshman Matt Nieto broke toward the net. It didn’t look like he would get there, but Nieto managed to redirect the puck past Rawlings, who was promptly pulled in favor of freshman Clay Witt, playing just his second collegiate game.
Northeastern seemed to settle down at that point. On a power play, right wing Wade MacLeod hit the post at 13:15, and then he almost scored again on the next man advantage on a one-timer from close quarters.
The Huskies were rewarded with a goal at 18:56 when Millan got burned by coming out of his net to cut down the angle on an initial shot. Cody Ferriero’s long slap shot bounced off the boards behind the net, and fellow freshman Braden Pimm was able to tuck in the rebound before Millan could cover the post.
The Terriers got into big trouble early in the third period, when simultaneous penalties to Ben Rosen and Justin Courtnall resulted in a full two minutes of five-on-three play for the Huskies. BU killed the better part of the double power play but finally paid for it. With Millan completely screened by his own defender, MacLeod finally got a goal, burying a high shot on the glove side.
Northeastern continued to press, piling up the shots, but couldn’t score again. With McNeely off on a tripping penalty, Noonan tinged the outside of the far post on a shot from the left-wing circle for the Terriers. About a minute later, BU regained the lead on the same power play, when Coyle got the puck behind the net and fed Chiasson for the one-timer from point-blank range.
BU (8-3-5, 6-3-4 Hockey East) travels to Rensselaer on Saturday for its last game before Christmas break, while Northeastern (3-9-4, 3-6-3) does not play again until Jan. 7.