BOSTON — The wild swings of momentum back and forth were tough to keep up with, especially for the scorekeeper. Boston College and Northeastern exchanged thundering hits and traded scoring chances at a furious pace, combining for six goals — all in the first 11 minutes.
Both squads threw caution to the wind early in a frenetic game between the two city rivals Saturday night, but Steven Whitney picked up a hat trick and the Eagles out-motored the Huskies en route to a dominant 9-3 win in front of a sellout crowd of 4,746 at Matthews Arena.
The game quickly turned into a rout in the second period, when the Eagles opened up a three-goal lead and chased Northeastern goalie Chris Rawlings, who made just 10 saves on 16 shots.
Cavanaugh called the second period effort one of the best he had seen from his team this year.
“We were able to keep our composure and stick with the game plan,” associate coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “That’s something we stressed going into this game.”
Early on, the Eagles showcased their lightning-quick attack, as the Huskies gave away the puck and the defensive zone early and often. Goals from Bill Arnold and Danny Linell in the first 4:47 made the game appear out of control for Northeastern.
Just as quickly as the Huskies were down, their full-throttle forecheck pulled them back even. Just 84 seconds after BC went up 2-0, Northeastern returned the favor, with quick strikes from Braden Pimm and Robbie Vrolyk.
Yet despite conventional wisdom, despite the 2-2 score, the pace refused to simmer. BC’s Destry Straight found himself alone in the middle of the slot to slap it into the back of the net. Meanwhile, the Huskies counterpunched until Adam Reid pounded home a rebound from a Colton Saucerman shot to knot the score at 3-3.
At 10:28 into the game, there had been 15 combined shots, six goals, and no regard for playing defense by either team. But as effortless as it seemed to be for Northeastern to match BC step-for-step and goal-for-goal in the first 20 minutes, it became impossible to keep up in the next 40.
“The first period was pretty crazy with all the goals, and the furious action,” associate coach Greg Brown said, adding that the team’s captains and seniors were instrumental in sticking with the game plan. “They didn’t get rattled.”
At the start of the second, the Eagles stepped on the gas, starting with a gorgeous end-to-end rush from Whitney, who deked past Rawlings and gave BC the last goal they would need just 1:16 into the period.
The turning point came when the Eagles, already up 5-3, killed off a Northeaster five-on-three power play. Immediately after the kill, a Pat Mullane tally made it 6-3, at which point Rawlings got the hook.
“We just didn’t come ready to play in the second period; I don’t know why, but it was the same start as it was in the first period,” Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said. “We felt sorry for ourselves and just watched them.”
Taking advantage of a deflated Huskies team was Whitney. The senior’s two third period goals completed his first career hat trick and capped off a big rebound win for the Eagles, who entered the game with just one win in their last five tries.
“It’s definitely rewarding, the way we feel right now,” said Whitney. “We had a good week of practice, just didn’t show up last night. It definitely felt good to show up tonight and get the results we did.”