CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The Boston College Eagles raised their national championship banner on Saturday night and then used the momentum of the electric crowd at Kelley Rink to jump out to an early lead and never look back.
The Eagles, led by sophomore forward Johnny Gaudreau (goal, assist), scored twice early in the first and then rode goaltender Parker Milner, who posted a 26-save shutout, and earned a 3-0 victory over Northeastern.
The victory enacted a slight bit of revenge for BC, which dropped its season opener on the road against the Huskies last Saturday, a loss that knocked the Eagles from their preseason number one ranking in the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll.
“Northeastern, right down the road from us, they’re always rivals,” said Gaudreau. “Beating us in their home opener, we most definitely didn’t want them to take our home opener away from us. Definitely, there was a little chip on our shoulder.”
With the 7,886 in attendance screaming from the opening faceoff, the Eagles did little to disappoint early.
BC jumped to a 1-0 lead on a Kevin Hayes power-play goal at 6:16. Hayes was a player possessed on the man-advantage shift and found space on the right side to one-time a pass from rookie defenseman Teddy Doherty under the armpit of Northeastern goaltender Chris Rawlings (24 saves).
After killing a penalty of their own, BC extended the lead at 10:06. Gaudreau, who scored the overtime game-winner on Friday night in a dramatic 5-4 come-from-behind road victory at Massachusetts, took a home-run pass from Pat Mullane, catching it in stride at the red line and skating alone, slipped the puck through Rawlings’ legs for a 2-0 lead.
“Pat Mullane blocked a shot and I saw it was right on his stick, so I broke through both defenseman, it was nice and clear,” said Gaudreau of the goal. “He made a nice pass through the middle. I had a breakaway and put it five-hole thinking it would be open because he’s a really big goalie.”
In the second, Northeastern came on strong, plastering Milner with 13 shots, many of the grade ‘A’ variety. He was strongest midway through the frame when BC’s Patrick Wey took back-to-back holding penalties. The best of those saves was a glove stop of a Garrett Vermeersch one-timer that seemed destined for the top corner.
“It was a little bit of a weird bounce and it bounced onto [Vermeersch's] stick really quick,” said Milner. “I was just trying to get an eye on it as quick as I could.”
Late in the frame, another BC power play produced a back-breaking goal on a Steven Whitney one-timer at 18:32. And while the power play was proficient, the penalty kill was even more impressive, killing all eight Northeastern man advantages, including three in the third period.
“I was very pleased with our special teams,” said BC coach Jerry York. “Our PK was excellent and I thought our power play was really important for us tonight. Even when we didn’t score, we had some good puck possession and we moved the puck well.”
The victory for BC (2-1-0, 2-1-0 Hockey East) completes the two-game weekend league sweep and likely calms the nerves of the Eagles’ faithful after BC’s loss last weekend and its slow start on Friday.
Northeastern (2-1-0, 2-1-0 Hockey East), which at times simply didn’t look crisp on Saturday, suffered its first loss of the season after beginning the year with two wins over nationally-ranked Merrimack and then the Eagles.
“BC deserved to win; they were the better team,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “They took it to us from the opening faceoff. We didn’t match their emotional level. It was a great night for them and they certainly displayed it on the ice.”