By Matt Noonan
BOSTON, MA – It was the final meeting between Boston College [22-7-1,16-6-1] and Northeastern University [11-12-7, 9-8-6] men’s ice hockey teams on Saturday, but despite all the wins and loses between both squads, the Hub may have found its newest college sports rivalry or at least, four games to watch every winter.
Boston College and Boston University is the immediate answer when one thinks about college hockey in Massachusetts or collegiate rivalries in the Hub, but after watching the Eagles and Huskies push each other to the brink during three games in six days, which featured 11-periods, two overtimes and 30-points, it maybe fair to say that this was indeed some quality hockey that was on display for an entire week.
“[Tonight] was a hockey game [because] the other two nights were [awful] games,” said Boston College head coach Jerry York. “This was much more like what hockey in February should be.”
Yet, despite all the fireworks that both teams produced over a span of 96-hours, Northeastern University’s 2-1 win on Saturday should not be classified as a dramatic finish, but rather a subdued win against the Eagles.
“[It was an] extremely gutsy efforts, really proud of them for the focus and the poise they played with. Coach [Greg] Cronin [and Albie] O’Connell and myself worked hard to get them to this level and we’re very proud of them buying into the system that we as a coaching staff have come up with and its great to see them coming together right now at this time of the season,” said Northeastern assistant coach Sebastien Laplante.
The game itself didn’t feature a lot of penalties, fights or back and fourth banter between both benches, but instead, just sloppy hockey, as well as a bunch of young college students who seemed rather fatigued.
Throughout the entire first period, the Eagles spent a great deal of time in front of Chris Rawlings net; yet, they were unable to convert any of their 14-shots into points. The continuous efforts were unsuccessful, but the same could be said for the Huskies offense too that finished the period with only four shots. Their lack of shooting or offense transcended from their first period on Friday, when the Huskies only recorded three shots on Eagles goaltender John Muse and one goal.
Although, after watching a slow first period, it seemed as if the fans just wanted something to cheer about, which did happen when Brodie Reid broke the stalemate and gave the Huskies an early, 1-0 lead. Northeastern would score again, but during the final period when Braden Pimm netted an unassisted goal, which practically put the game away, until Boston College’s Cam Atkinson scored during the final few minutes.
Atkinson’s goal electrified the Matthews Arena, as the final minutes felt like the closing seconds of the 59th Annual Boston Beanpot Championship.
“[Northeastern] did a nice job in a lot of different areas,” said York. “I think its like I said before, it’s a good solid hockey team.”
The Buzzer did sound eventually and due to Boston College’s hard fought efforts, the Eagles left the ice with a loss while Northeastern celebrated the win. The Huskies not only earned their first victory against the number one team in America, but also solidified a spot in the upcoming Hockey East tournament in March.
“We clinched [the] playoffs tonight, but we’re certainly not [going] to stop right now. We want to keep going up and see we’re we can end up in the standings and get better position for the playoffs,” said Laplante.
While the “mini-playoffs” series is indeed over, it certainly is possible to believe that these particular three games will help build confidence and momentum for both squads prior to the start of the conference playoffs.
“This was like one of those playoff series. Two out of three, three out of five series, you just don’t get these very often before we get to playoff situations, so its good for both teams,” said York.