BOSTON — A see-saw third period followed by a quick strike in overtime catapulted Boston College to a sweep of Northeastern to open Hockey East play, with freshman Adam Gilmour drilling the game-winner for the Eagles 1:36 into the extra period at Matthews Arena on Saturday.
Though the Huskies had a third period lead, a shift in momentum midway through the frame allowed the Eagles to walk away with three unanswered goals and claim their 13th win over the Huskies in the last 17 meetings.
“We were looking at 3-1 down before a pretty raucous crowd and a good hockey team in the Huskies,” BC coach Jerry York said. “I feel very excited about our club responding to that.”
BC came out flying in the first period, dominating puck possession. It took nearly eight minutes of game action for the Huskies to record their first shot on goal, but they made it count.
With the Huskies breaking out of the defensive zone, Adam Reid found sophomore transfer Torin Snyderman along the left wing. Snyderman fluttered a seemingly innocent shot to net, but it slipped under the left pad of Brian Billett and trickled over the line to give the Huskies an early edge.
“I went to the net hoping I could get bounce and got lucky,” Snyderman said.
It didn’t take long for BC to respond, however. Three minutes later, the Eagles caught the Huskies in the middle of a line change and had a two-on-one transition rush led by Kevin Hayes. Delaying with the puck, Hayes waited for Matt Benning (the lone man back) to commit before sliding it across to Ryan Fitzgerald for the finish, knotting the score at one.
Witt faced a barrage of BC pressure in the second period, including a stuff-in try at the side of the net from Kevin Hayes that was denied with Witt’s outstretched left leg. Ultimately, BC fed 16 shots on goal in the period, but Witt (36 saves) managed to hold the fort.
On the other side, to the credit of Billett (31 saves), he calmly stopped several NU breakaways, as the Huskies employed a cherry-picker at the blue line throughout the game.
The biggest test of the night for Billett came on a single-handed, end-to-end rush from Reid. At the midway point of the second period and with all five BC skaters crowded below the faceoff dots in the offensive zone, a blocked shot gave Reid the entire sheet of ice to himself, but Billett stepped into Reid’s shooting path and blocked the top-shelf try.
The game appeared deadlocked, but the offensive floodgates opened in the third period. At 2:29 into the frame, a giveaway to Kevin Roy allowed him to feed the puck ahead to a streaking Mike Szmatula, who pocketed the quick wrister to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead.
At 6:22, it was Colton Saucerman whose shot got tipped by Brendan Silk’s stick on defense and floated in the air into the back of the net. A minute later, a holding penalty on Bill Arnold seemed to signal the game was unraveling for the Eagles.
However, the BC penalty kill, which had been aggressive all night on the blue line, sparked a comeback that would wipe the lead away in short order. At 7:50 and with NU scrambling to cover the defensive zone on a BC rush, Michael Matheson swung the puck across to Patrick Brown, who knocked it in to make it 3-2.
“We kill pretty aggressively all the time,” Brown said. “But being down a few goals made it all that more important to rush up ice.”
“We didn’t adjust well enough to kick the puck down lower sooner,” Northeastern coach Madigan recalled about the power play. “They jumped us.”
Capping the comeback was an incredible goal from Johnny Gaudreau at 12:51, as he netted his sixth of the year on a shot from below the goal line. While he was being pursued on a rush, Gaudreau seemed to take himself out of an angle by delaying, but he fired it off of the back of Witt’s left leg and into the net, stunning the sellout crowd of 4,746 and tying the score three.
Brown remarked later that few players have the presence of mind to make that decision.
“He sees the ice better than any player I’ve ever played with. It’s pretty cool,” Brown said.
Without a response from the Huskies, the game went to overtime. Just 1:36 into the extra period, Patrick Brown circled the net to the right circle and fired a shot. The first attempt was blocked, the second attempt got through, and after Witt kicked a rebound into space, Gilmour pounced, claiming his first career goal, receiving a mob of his teammates seconds later.
“I thought we were in a good rhythm and were playing well; we gave them a short-handed goal and another where [Clay] didn’t get to the post quick enough,” Madigan said. “They just take advantage of those opportunities.”
With a shortened conference schedule this season, this was potentially the last meeting between these two squads, barring a matchup in the Beanpot tournament in February.