“The lights were bright out there, and I shine in those.”
Tyler Madden came up with the perfect line that encapsulates his recent flair for late-game heroics.
With the Huskies and Boston University tied at one in overtime of the semifinal of the Beanpot Tournament, it would be Madden who broke the deadlock and send the Huntington Hounds to the finals in hopes of defending their 2018 Beanpot championship. As the first minute of overtime hockey wound down, the now-nicknamed Mr. Bright Lights received a fantastic breakout pass from Jeremy Davies at the BU blue line, skated in alone on star goaltender Jake Oettinger, and snuck a shot under Oettinger’s glove to send the Huskies and their fans into a frenzy.
In a game where Northeastern vastly outplayed the Terriers, including outshooting their opponents 49-27 overall and 43-16 at even strength, it was the goaltenders that shone brightest for each side. Winning goalie Cayden Primeau proved to be a difference maker once again, saving 26 of 27 shots, including two breakaways from Terriers leading scorer Joel Farabee in the second period, as well as other saved when the Terriers got the puck in close to the blue paint early in the game. His Commonwealth Avenue counterpart, Oettinger, saved 47 of 49 in quite possible his most impressive performance in three seasons at BU, but similar to Matt Murray before him, he did not have an answer for an overtime Tyler Madden breakaway.
The Huskies struck first early in the opening period when Patrick Schule made a great defensive play on the forecheck to get the puck off of BU defenseman Cam Crotty, and the loose puck slid to Liam Pecararo, who drew two BU defenders before feeding Schule in the slot. Schule’s cross-body shot beat Oettinger over the blocker, electrifying the TD Garden to life. A number of BU players, coaches, and fans were outraged at the lack of a penalty called on Schule…and I actually agree with them, I thought Schule got away with a hooking penalty to free the puck up. But the referees non-call was final, and the Huskies held an early 1-0 lead.
That lead held for nearly the remainder of the first period, as BU would tie the game with only 21 seconds left in the period. Crotty’s point shot soared past Primeau’s net entirely, but took a billiards-worthy bounce off the back wall and into the slot without touching any net or skater to deter it, right to Farabee on the back doorstep. Farabee had been cutting to the net and was in the right place at the right time to redirect the puck off Primeau and into the net, notching the score at one goal apiece.
From that goal onward, the Huskies dominated nearly every aspect of the game. Each period, they outshot the Terriers: 14-11 in the first period, 10-8 in the second, and 25-10 between the third period and overtime. In a stark contrast to their recent games, the Huskies held the offensive zone for extended periods of time constantly, peppering the goalie with high-quality chances from all angles of the ice. Had the Huskies been able to pounce on some of the many rebounds Oettinger let out, or if any other goalie had been in that net, there’s every reason to think the game would have been a bloodbath.
The Huskies even dominated BU on faceoffs, though the Terriers were missing the captain and faceoff wizard Bobo Carpenter, who may be lost for the season to an undisclosed injury. The Huskies won 35 of 65 faceoffs, led by Zach Solow‘s eighteen wins and Tyler Madden’s seven. The Huskies were also perfect on the penalty kill, successfully killing off four minor penalties, including one in each period.
Some of the Huskies that I thought played extremely well included freshman defenseman Julian Kislin, who should more physicality in his game than we had seen, senior Paddy Schule, senior Lincoln Griffin, and defensemen Ryan Shea and Jeremy Davies. Even sophomore Eetu Selanne, who does not get a ton of minutes each game, played well when he was out there, winning two of three faceoffs and keeping the puck going towards the BU zone. Impressive showing from Huskies up and down the lineup.
If we were to nitpick, the weakest parts of the Huskies’ game would be their powerplay, which did not score despite getting 6 shots on net in only two chances and struggling to break out of their own zone; a handful of moments or possessions that were sloppy in their defensive zone, including multiple turnovers under the faceoff dots and around Primeau’s net; and an unconscionable interference penalty taken by Biagio Lerario with two minutes left in regulation that the Huskies eventually killed off (though not without inducing some near-heart attacks in their fans).
Now the Huskies will take on UConn on Thursday night before looking ahead to playing the Boston College Eagles in the Beanpot final. The Eagles defeated Harvard 2-1 in the opening game of the night, the first non-conference victory for the Chestnut Hill boys since November 13, 2016; they had lost 25 straight non-league games up until Monday evening. In their victory, I honestly was not impressed by their showing. They were outshot by Harvard 28-18, and while both goals came from freshmen and not from leading scorers David Cotton, Julius Mattila, or Oliver Wahlstrom, it never felt at any point that BC had complete control over the game. If the Huskies can perform like they did this past Monday against the Eagles, a Beanpot repeat should be very much in the cards.
We plan to have a preview for the UConn game up by Thursday afternoon, and will likely pair the UConn recap with a BC preview over the weekend. Until then, enjoy the victory, watch the highlights linked below, and we will see you next Monday at TD Garden.
As always, go Huskies!
Feature photo via @GoNUmHockey on Twitter, Matthew Modoono, and Adam Glanzman