It started in the very first minute of the game, when Dylan Sikura hit a goalpost on his opening shift. Moments later Garret Cockerill would find a goalpost of his own, but this time, Jeremy Davies was there to corral the rebound and shoot it back past Joseph Woll. 1-0. Then Sikura cleaned up the rebound of a Nolan Stevens shot. 2-0. Then Adam Gaudette sniped a puck home on a 5 on 3. It was just 20 minutes into a Saturday Night game at Conte Forum, and the Huskies led 3-0 on three power play goals, while the Eagles had just three shots.
The second period started how the first ended. Trevor Owens shot from the point all the way to the far post of Woll, and his second career goal ran the vaunted sophomore goaltender from the crease. Ryan Edquist came in and wouldn’t fare much better – Sikura found the net yet another power play rebound just 4 minutes later. The Huskies were up 5-0. They had four power play goals and Sikura had scored two of them and recorded a point on the other two. This was undoubtedly the kind of game Husky fans have dreamed of for years, and probably a game most never thought would come. The Huskies dominated the Eagles on their home ice.
The script didn’t end 30 minutes into the game of course. BC got the first goal back on a bad angle shot from the stick of Michael Kim – who has made a career of being a thorn in the side of the Huskies. Christopher Brown would add a 5-on-3 goal after a post-whistle scrum gave the Huskies a pair of penalties, cutting the lead to 3. But the Huskies got to the break and regrouped, allowing just 6 shots in a third period where they made BC race up and down the ice for 20 minutes and smothered any attempt at a comeback. By a final score of 5-2, Northeastern pulled within two points of the Eagles for first place in Hockey East – with a game in hand – and moved up to 12th in the Pairwise and 8th in the USCHO, USA Hockey, and Buccigross polls.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. This was a historic win for the Huskies. This was the first Northeastern win at Conte Forum in ten seasons, since a pair of overtime wins in the 2007-2008 campaign. The last 60 minute Husky win at Conte? To find that you have to go back to before 16 of the 19 Huskies who played Saturday were even born. You have to go all the way back to November of 1994, over 23 years ago. A generation had passed since we last saw a performance like we did on Saturday.
It happened because of the red-hot Huskies’ special teams. The parade to the box in the first resulted in 4 BC penalty kills – including a major – and 3 NU goals resulted. You could argue that the major penalty was a soft call, it certainly wasn’t the worst hit I’ve ever seen. But it was just-as-certainly worthy of a minor, and NU scored their only goal 34 seconds after the call anyway. Meanwhile, NU killed two BC advantages in the first and another in the opening moments the second. The Huskies did go on to concede a power play goal to the Eagles, and failed to convert on the last 3 power plays of their own, but when it mattered, the Northeastern Huskies were equal parts unstoppable force and immovable object.
There’s always something to improve on. Northeastern took some bad penalties and let up in the back half of the second, briefly letting BC get their noses back into the game before slamming the door. They also need to perform better at even strength, during the current 3 game winning streak the Huskies have scored only 4 goals at 5 on 5 to compliment their 7 power play tallies. Cayden Primeau played yet another solid game in the net Saturday, although he didn’t have to make a ton of big saves and didn’t face much sustained pressure except for the stretch at the end of the second. He would up with 26 stops on the night though, and he probably wants the Kim goal back as save number 27. But for the most part, the whole team played well and looked nothing like the team Boston College shut down at Matthews a few weeks prior.
The Huskies are on to Merrimack now, where they will attempt to win their third game against the Warriors to sweep the season series, move into tie with the Eagles for first place, and capture the ever-important NCAA Hockey Championship Belt. With their 12th position in the Pairwise placing them just above the bubble, the Huskies very much need to beat the last-place Warriors to keep their season looking strong. The same will be true after the break against AIC and a suddenly red-hot Bentley, but, one game at a time.
We won’t be putting out a new preview for the Merrimack game since the one from a week ago still mostly applies, but there are a few interesting notes heading into Saturday’s game. The fall semester ends on Friday, which means currently-ineligible Brandon Hawkins and Liam Pecararo may be eligible for the game Saturday, depending on whether Northeastern can get them cleared in time. Due to the particular details that led each player to be declared ineligible for very different reasons, my expectation is that Hawkins should be cleared barring any complications from the NCAA’s side of things, while Pecararo is more of a question and is the more likely of the two to have to wait until the game against AIC to finally make his debut. Having one or both of the transfer forwards will immediately deepen and bolster a Huskies’ lineup that has sputtered outside of the Big Three, Lincoln Griffin, and John Picking. If both are eligible, my preference would be to see lines resembling:
Starting Pecararo on line 2 is the biggest question mark, Filipe could easily take that spot. Hampton and Schule are no guarantee to make the lineup and may well be exchanged with Selanne, Schultz, Goldstein or Lerario, but I think those two are the most deserving at this time.