Some observations from NU’s upset of BU on Thursday

In what has been a season of playoff upsets, Hockey East showed it won’t leave the drama to the other guys. One game in the books, one upset as sixth-seeded Northeastern outplayed and outworked No. 3 seed Boston University. End result was a 4-2 win for the Huntington Hounds, who brought with them an impressive visiting crowd into Agganis Arena on Thursday night.

Here are some observations from the game:

Northeastern Chris Rawlings was ready. There were some questions down the stretch how prepared Rawlings was and how well he was playing, so much so that he sat on the bench last Saturday as rookie Clay Witt pulled off the identical upset, beating BU, 4-3. Huskies head coach Greg Cronin admitted he had a difficult decision on his hands entering Thursday. “I didn’t know I was going to go with Rawlings until yesterday afternoon,” said Cronin. “Witt played well enough that he had the right to compete for the [start].” Good decision, indeed, as Rawlings stopped 37 shots.

BU power play couldn’t get it done. Despite scoring a goal when Ryan Ruikka poked home a rebound to draw the Terriers within two at 4-2, the BU power play didn’t perform up to snuff. They plastered 19 shots on Rawlings in nine PP attempts but as head coach Jack Parker said, “Most of them hit him in the chest.” The critical moment came with less than eight minutes remaining as the Terriers had a 5-on-3 for 37 seconds and failed to convert. As legendary Boston Globe scribe John Powers said after the game, “BU teams of old would’ve tied the game right there.”

Silva was outstanding for the Huskies. Steve Silva scored two goals for Northeastern and added an assist, but he was also one of the best players on the ice for the Huskies on the night. He easily could’ve had the hat trick if not for an early shot in the game that clanged the inside of the iron but somehow stayed out.

BU likely has to win out for NCAA bid. If there was much question as to whether or not BU had to win the Hockey East tournament to qualify for the NCAA’s, it’s now likely been answered. The Terriers entered the game on the wrong side of the bubble and with the loss Thursday dropped to a tie for 18th. If BU doesn’t go on a four-game winning streak, their season is likely done. “We knew [coming into tonight] we certainly had to get to the Garden and at probably get to the final game,” said Parker. “[The NCAA tournament] is the last thing on our mind.”

Return for Cronin was like riding a bike. Thursday was Cronin’s first game back behind the bench after serving a six-game suspension for NCAA recruiting violations. The sixth year bench boss, though, said nothing really felt different on Thursday night. “I didn’t feel any different,” said Cronin. “Even before the game it’s the same routine, same thing we did. I didn’t even feel like I was gone.”