CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Boston College captain Tommy Cross scored a power-play goal with 2.8 seconds remaining in regulation to give the No. 2 Eagles a hard-fought 2-1 victory over cross-town rival Northeastern in front of 6,688 at BC’s Kelley Rink Friday night.
The winning goal, which deflected of the hand of a Northeastern defenseman and past Huskies goaltender Chris Rawlings (34 saves), epitomized the patience that the Eagles showed on the night, patience that carried the team to victory.
On the final shot, Cross took a perfect pass from fellow blueliner Brian Dumoulin. As many thought Dumoulin would shot the puck himself, he instead was wise to the time remaining and slid the puck to an open Cross.
“Dumoulin got [the puck] and that’s where he’s a special player. Most guys would have panicked,” said Cross of the winning goal. “He somehow had the clock in his head, looked over to me and I just got it off quick.”
As the puck floated towards Rawlings, he began to jump thinking the shot would go high only to have it change directions in front and skid along the ice under the elevated netminder.
Not only did the goal break the deadlock to give BC the victory, but it broke the hearts of the Huskies, who for the second time this year hung with the Eagles only to fall in difficult fashion.
Northeastern first-year head coach Jim Madigan felt that his team had the effort and compete to win the game – something the club has shown throughout the young season. But minor mistakes in execution led to what is the team’s third one-goal loss in the last five games.
“For the most part, we’ve had the effort,” said Madigan. “What we haven’t had is intelligent play making. You can have all the effort and all the compete, but if you don’t play intelligently, that’s the result.”
One area of deficiency for the Huskies was special teams. Not only did they surrender the game-winning goal while killing a penalty, they failed to generate any offense in four power-play chances, two of those with the game tied in the third.
Madigan said that his team simply couldn’t handle the pressure applied by the BC penalty killers, despite trying to work on it in practice all week.
“With our scout team this week, we tried to get our scout PK unit to [generate pressure] because they come at you,” said Madigan. “[BC] pushes you outside your comfort zone. If you can keep the puck from along the wall, you’ll get your chances, but obviously that’s an area we need to improve on.”
Though the Huskies struggled to generate much offensive pressure early, they took the lead into the first intermission thanks to Cody Ferriero’s first goal of the season. Ferriero, brother of former Boston College standout Benn Ferriero, was on the doorstep to poke a loose rebound of Garrett Vermeersch’s shot past BC netminder Parker Milner (17 saves) at 12:41 for the only goal of the opening frame.
Midway through the game, the Huskies had a glaring opportunity to expand the lead. After Mike McLaughlin’s shot bounced off the kickplate behind Milner, the rebound landed on rookie Joseph Manno’s stick. With the net wide open, he couldn’t get control of the pick in time and his shot hit the side of the net.
BC, opportunistic, drew even exactly one minute later at 11:50 on a highlight reel play. Chris Kreider used his height to get a glove on an NU clearing attempt then corralled the puck, made a nifty move around the Huskies defender and patiently held the puck long enough for Kevin Hayes to get open at the left post. Kreider’s pass was promptly buried by Hayes, knotting the game at 1 through 40 minutes.
“The minute I got around the [defender], Kevin was screaming,” said Kreider. “That’s something he does really well out there, communicate. I didn’t do a great job of moving Rawlings. Kevin just had a beautiful shot.”
While Northeastern falls to 1-6-2 overall and in league play, the victory gives BC (9-2-0, 6-1-0 Hockey East) momentum heading into Sunday’s marquee matchup with cross-town rival Boston University.
“We can switch gears now,” said BC head coach Jerry York of what will be the 255th all-time meeting between the clubs. “We have a practice tomorrow and we’ll really focus on BU.”