Eagles Can’t Hold Leads In Frustrating Tie With Northeastern

Whether or not you walked over to Kelley Rink on Saturday night to watch Boston College men’s hockey, you could guess what happened.

Pessimists milling around the Million Dollar Stairs may immediately think the Eagles lost, judging from the famed hockey rink’s silence during the first 40 minutes of BC’s tilt against crosstown rival, Northeastern University. More positive people who stood in the cold waiting for the Comm. Ave. bus around the time the third period rolled around may be refreshing their social media accounts, excitedly expecting @BCHockeyNews to tweet out aGIF celebrating head coach Jerry York’s path toward his 1,000th career win.

The truth is that this game ended in the dreaded place in between, the no man’s land where all those in attendance cringe to end up. It’s a place where no one walks away happy or angry, just with overwhelming disappointment, Yes, there was a tie.

After 65 minutes of hard play between the No. 2-ranked Eagles (12-1-1, 5-0-1 Hockey East) and Huskies (2-11-3, 0-7-3), neither could edge out its opponent in a 3-3 final.

The Eagles dominated throughout the first ten minutes of the first period. Miles Wood got BC on the board at 4:25, slotting the puck through the five-hole of Northeastern goaltender Ryan Ruck after receiving a deflection off his pads. BC’s forwards kept the heat on the freshman goalie, launching several great chances shortly following Wood’s seventh goal of the season.

Alex Tuch, BC’s leading scorer from last season—who has yet to get on a hot streak of his own this year—was the only one who made through on those shots. The Minnesota Wild prospect took an excellent cross-ice pass from linemate Adam Gilmour, deking a couple of times in front of Ruck before slamming the puck home at the top of the crease for his fourth of the year. Just like that, 10 minutes into the game, the Eagles had a commanding 2-0 lead.

But Northeastern answered a mere 34 seconds later. Left wing Nolan Stevens took the feed from his brother, John (who would later leave the game with an undisclosed lower body injury), driving in his sixth goal of the year to cut BC’s lead in half.

At that point, Kelley Rink halted to a still silence for about 30 minutes. BC lost its stroke on offense, allowing Northeastern to put up a lot of excellent shots on goaltender Thatcher Demko. The best came from NU right wing Zach Aston-Reese, who held the puck on his stick a bit too long. That extra second of waiting allowed Demko to come around to the other side of the net to deflect the puck with his arm, keeping BC in front.

The second period remained uneventful for the first 15 minutes, until a foolish mistake almost killed the Eagles. After getting hit from behind from a NU defender, Wood, a freshman, retaliated by cross-checking his head. Wood’s play earned him a five-minute major, plus a game misconduct which caused him to be ejected—he will, however, be available for Sunday’s game at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena. Following the game, York believed that the call was borderline, but his freshman superstar received it because his hit came as a retaliatory measure.

“He’ll learn a pretty valuable lesson,” York said with a smile.

But both Demko and the Eagles’ penalty kill stood on their heads. The defense, led by Ian McCoshen and Casey Fitzgerald, prevented Northeastern from taking any good chances throughout those five minutes.

When the clock turned to the final 20, that same unit had to face much better shots. Tuch and Scott Savage each earned tripping penalties in the first four minutes of the period, but McCoshen blocked several shots with his body. Whatever he couldn’t stop, Demko was there waiting for it.

“I thought the only reason we got one point out here tonight was because of Thatcher’s saves,” York said.

Then, at around 8:40 in the period, came the screams and shouts. Northeastern freshman Lincoln Griffin, a Walpole, Mass. native, launched the equalizer through traffic and caused Demko to slam over the net in frustration. Immediately after the goal, Josh Couturier got called for a hard board on an NU player, sending him to the box.

This led BC’s Matthew Gaudreau to explode with his own anger. Gaudreau had gotten pushed from behind shortly before Griffin’s goal, one that usually leads to a penalty. Unable to believe his teammate went to the box for a similar play, Gaudreau slammed his stick against the boards several times and lunged at the refs, earning his own 10-minute game misconduct. And the onslaught didn’t stop there, as 43 seconds later, Ryan Fitzgerald was called for a trip on Ruck, which replays showed did not actually occur.

Yet all of that energized both the crowd and the Eagles. And Colin White, BC’s leading scorer, would make NU—and the referees—pay. He brilliantly stole the puck away from the NU defender, dashing down the ice for a shorthanded goal, giving BC a 3-2 lead and sending the crowd roaring so loudly you would think that the Eagles were playing in a packed Alumni Stadium.

Unlike previous games in which they’ve overcome penalties, the Beacon Street Bullies couldn’t hold the lead. Northeastern won a late faceoff and, at 17:46, Stevens scored his second of the game, knotting the game up at 3-3. The fire from the Eagles ended after that—BC couldn’t get any shots off in the overtime period.

NU head coach Jim Madigan lauded his team for its ability to come back from early deficits to keep up with a team that is widely considered the fastest in all of college hockey.

“It’s not a win, and that’s what we’re measured by, but we’re also measured by points in this league,” Madigan said.“This was a good tie.”

But while Northeastern may come away content with this neutral and satisfactory outcome, that same unsatisfied feeling is not shared by BC after a game against an opponent that the Eagles, one of the country’s best teams, should have beaten.

“It’s just so hard to look at records to predict how a team will play,” York said, alluding to the Huskies’ streak last year in which they lost eight of their first games before finishing 16-8-3 for the remainder of the season. “They’re going to be a dangerous team down the stretch.”

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

 

About Michael Sullivan 272 Articles
Michael Sullivan was the 2017 editor-in-chief of The Heights and a two-time sports editor. He brought this paper to once a week and reminisces about the Wednesdays he could've had at BC. You can still follow his journalistic adventures @MichaelJSully.