CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — After Monday’s Beanpot championship game in which 13 goals were scored, many joked that a rematch between No. 1 Boston College and Northeastern would likely be a scoreless tie.
Oh, how wrong they were.
The Huskies and the Eagles, did one better than their 7-6 overtime win for BC in the Beanpot final, combining on Friday night for 14 total goals in a 7-7 tie at a sold out Kelley Rink.
The game looked more like the NHL All-Star Game rather than a key late-season battle for both clubs as skaters were allowed to roam free at both ends of the ice in a near-defenseless game.
“Twenty-seven goals combined in two game is more like pond hockey,” said Boston College head coach Jerry York. “We have to tighten up and play good defense here.”
Ten players had multi-point games, while Boston College’s Cam Atkinson and Chris Kreider and Wade MacLeod each netted two goals in the game. Brian Gibbons notched a goal and two assists for BC, making him the 14th player in team history to reach 100 assists.
Special teams played a major role in the game with Northeastern finishing 4-for-10 on the power play and the Eagles scoring three power play goals, including a Bill Arnold 6-on-4 goal with 38.7 seconds remaining to tie the game at 7. BC also added two shorthanded tallied and Northeastern’s Mike McLaughlin scored while down a man with 5:38 left in regulation to put Northeastern ahead, 7-6, a goal many thought would have been the game-winner until Arnold’s late heroics
The game was played under a bit of a dark cloud as prior to the game Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin and assistant coach Albie O’Connell were suspended indefinitely pending an investigation into NCAA recruiting violations. That left assistant coach Sebastien Laplante to run the team himself, likely not expecting to be involved in such a back-and-forth affair.
“I’m really proud of the guys for showing a lot of resiliency,” said Laplante. “It was a tough evening for them. They answered the call and went toe-to-toe with the number one team in the country again. I can’t help but be as proud as anyone can be for the group of guys who put their hearts out there.
Fans knew they were in for another wild game between these two rivals right from the onset when the Eagles got on the scoreboard early. Jimmy Hayes, who scored the overtime game-winner on Monday night, attempted a pass in front of the net that deflected off Northeastern defenseman Anthony Bitetto and past BC’s starting netminder Parker Milner (five saves) at 3:08.
The Eagles scored twice more in an ugly frame for the Huskies as Atkinson netted a rare 5-on-5 goal at 9:31 and Kreider potted his first of the night at 11:53. Were it not for a mistake by BC defenseman Patch Alber that led to Garrett Vermeersch scoring NU’s lone goal of the period, things could’ve been much worse for the Huskies heading to the second.
Still with life, Northeastern then exploded in the middle frame, scoring three times in 4 minutes, 23 seconds to turn the two-goal deficit into a 4-3 lead. Bitetto and MacLeod each scored on the power play and Robbie Vrolyk blasted a one-timer past Milner spelling the end of the night for the sophomore who was replaced by John Muse (14 saves).
Similar to Monday, though, no lead was safe for the Huskies and a late goal by Kreider at 18:07 sent the game to the third tied at 4.
That call-and-response continued into over the final 20 minutes of regulation. After Northeastern took the lead 20 seconds in on MacLeod’s second of the game, BC responded with its first shorthanded goal of the period. Atkinson finished off a Gibbons feed to knot the game at 5 at 4:13.
BC then got into massive penalty trouble as Kreider was assessed a major penalty for kneeing at 6:25 and Patrick Wey was called for high-sticking just 31 seconds later. The Huskies struck again on the power play, this time it was Tyler McNeely burying a Steve Silva feed.
But with NU pressing for the two-goal cushion, Gibbons and Atkinson broke shorthanded again, this time with Gibbons finishing the feed from his linemate at 10:46.
The Huskies, though, proved they could score shorthanded, too. Mike McLaughlin skated end-to-end during the penalty kill, skated past the BC defenseman and got two shots on Muse, burying his own rebound.
But just when it appeared Northeastern might turn the table from Monday and win their own 7-6 shootout, Arnold was left all alone in front of the net to bury a rebound in the closing minute to send the game to overtime.
The tie hurt both teams in the Hockey East standings. Northeastern (10-12-7 overall, 8-8-6 in Hockey East) fell two points behind Maine, a 4-0 winner over Massachusetts-Lowell on Friday for fifth place in Hockey East. New Hampshire, a 6-1 winner at Vermont on Friday, jumped a point ahead of Boston College (22-6-1, 16-5-1) for first place.
The Huskies and Eagles will close out their three-games-in-six-nights battle Saturday at Matthews Arena beginning at 7 p.m.