BOSTON — If teams haven’t figured it out yet, Friday’s semifinal between Northeastern and Boston University proved that you simply cannot give the Huskies life late in a game.
Northeastern has scored 57 goals in the third period and overtime this season, and on Friday became the first team to defeat BU when trailing heading to the third period, advancing to the Hockey East final via a Zach Solow goal at 15:44 of overtime.
Huskies coach Jim Madigan admits he would like to see more of those goals scored earlier in the game, but also understands his club has a believability that makes them difficult to beat.
“We talked about it entering the third and I said, ‘This is our period,’” said Madigan. “We’ve excelled in this period so there’s a confidence level, there’s a comfort level entering the third period.
“The urgency meter goes up and awful lot.”
Solow, the game’s hero, tied a Northeastern program record with his sixth game-winning goal of the season. It was also his second overtime game winner this season. A year ago as a freshman, he took a backseat to the likes of Adam Gaudette, Dylan Sikura and Nolan Stevens. That didn’t mean that he wasn’t spending every day learning from that trio.
“The guys from last year, they were really good players, really smart players,” said Solow. “Off the ice, they helped everyone, especially me. They helped me get acclimated to the college game. This season, I’m just trying to shoot more and put myself in positions that they put themselves and just try to capitalize on it.”
Capitalize he did on Friday. As Boston University got caught at the end of an extended shift, Brendon Hawkins picked off a pass up the right wing wall and immediately fed the puck to Solow. With a lot of room to operate, Solow fired the puck top shelf past Jake Oettinger (42 saves) to send his team to Saturday’s title game.
“It’s a fine line between winning and losing,” said BU coach Albie O’Connell, whose team’s season ended on Friday with the loss. “It’s a tough play at the end. [Northeastern] had one guy forechecking. We had three guys back and a goalie and we kind of rimmed the puck. That’s what happens when you’re tired. You make mistakes.”
Boston University looked to take a 1-0 lead with 2:03 remaining in the first as Logan Cockerill fired a shot through a screen. But video review showed that Bobo Carpenter made slight contact with goaltender Cayden Primeau’s (29 saves) head as the puck was passing him and the officials disallowed the goal.
Nearing the midway of the second as a power play ended, the Terriers finally did grab that lead as Ty Amonte poked home the rebound of David Farrance’s shot.
Northeastern took little time in the third proving that is their period. They evened the score as Matt Filipe’s rush up the right wing generated a rebound that Tyler Madden fired home just 16 seconds into the frame.
With 13:19 remaining, it appeared that Northeastern had taken the lead as Lincoln Griffin poked home the rebound of Brandon Hawkins shot. But again, video replay showed that Hawkins made contact with BU netminder Jake Oettinger, negating the goal.
Each team had the opportunity to win the game late in regulation with power plays, but neither converted. Northeastern’s Zach Solow had arguably the best shot, a 20-footer with 1:58 remaining that Oettinger saved.
The win is the 26th of the season for Northeastern, a new program record. That’s certainly a highlight that makes Madigan proud, but he is also very aware win No. 27 carries with it something special.
“This team just broke the all-time record for wins in a season with 26,” said Madigan. “So I’m thrilled to get that win. But the biggest win is 27 and we look forward to coming out here tomorrow night with the chance to battle again.”