MEN'S HOCKEY: Huskies Upset Eagles
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
BOSTON — It took just 60 minutes to remember that nothing comes easy in Hockey East.
The No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey team opened their season with a 3-1 loss at Northeastern Saturday night, ending the 19-game winning streak that propelled it to the national championship last season. Playing in front of a raucous crowd at Matthews Arena, the Eagles were thoroughly outworked and outplayed for the vast majority of the game.
The Huskies took the lead early on, built on it quickly, and played a razor-sharp defensive game that stifled a normally dangerous BC offense. Head coach Jerry York spoke about Northeastern’s play, saying that there was no question who the better team was on the night.
“I thought it was a well-played game,” York said. “I thought Northeastern was a little sharper than us in different areas. I thought our breakouts weren’t sharp and crisp either. They forecheck very well and hemmed us in for different parts of the game, which ultimately leads to victory. You’re not going to score a lot of goals when you can’t get the puck out of the zone.”
Northeastern opened up the scoring just five minutes into the game when Ryan Belonger banged home a loose puck for his career goal. Just three minutes later, Kevin Roy doubled the lead for the Huskies when he beat Parker Milner up high on a great passing play.
The Eagles looked flat for the majority of the first period before Northeastern took a bad penalty in the offensive zone. It took just nine seconds of power play time before Steven Whitney took a gorgeous pass from Johnny Gaudreau and buried a shot past goalie Chris Rawlings with just over five minutes to go in the period. BC looked better as the period continued and had a few good scoring chances, but Whitney’s goal would prove to be the only time it beat Rawlings, who drew high praise from York after the game.
“I thought our inability to score more goals was a direct reflection on how well Rawlings played in goal,” York said. “We needed more people in front to screen and deflect pucks, and we just did not get that over the course of the night.”
The second period saw more of the same from the Eagles. Northeastern pressured the BC defense all night and kept them from creating many chances on offense. Milner was forced to make some impressive saves to keep his team in the game. The Eagles were noticeably shaky on the defensive side, where three freshmen played significant minutes throughout the game. Such youth and inexperience is not unexpected, but the defense that was such a strength in last season’s run has a long way to go, according to York.
“That’s certainly something we’re going to have to go through some growing pains with,” York said. “But as the year progresses, I’m sure they’re all going to benefit from the ice time they’re getting. But that’s certainly an area that we need an improvement on. They’re just young kids, so it’s going to take a while.”
The Eagles came out better in the third, upping the pressure and getting more shots on Rawlings. The senior goalie was up to the task though, stopping everything BC threw his way. The Huskies looked back on their heels until Colton Saucerman took a shot from outside the blue line that fooled Milner and knuckled into the net with just over 15 minutes remaining in the game. The goal seemed to take the energy out of the Eagles, who had some chances as time wore down but were unable to get themselves back into the game. York spoke on the shot that fooled his goalie, but also said that he did not believe that the goal decided the game.
“The third goal, it looked like from the bench that it really dropped down,” York said. “It just kind of knuckled straight down and fooled Parker. It was one of those strange shots. The goal didn’t decide the game because there was still plenty of time to play, but it certainly made it an uphill battle for us. I would have liked to get that thing knotted at two.”
The Eagles lost despite outshooting Northeastern 32-29, with 15 of those shots coming in the third period. BC next travels to play UMass on Friday night before hosting the Huskies on Saturday for banner night.