Top Story, Men's Hockey

Sloppy Play by Woll, Poor Penalty Kill Plague BC Against Northeastern

The clock hadn’t yet struck midnight on Saturday evening, but the magic in Chestnut Hill was gone.

Just hours after Boston College men’s basketball pulled off an impressive 89-84 upset of No. 1 Duke—the third such victory for the program since 2010—Conte Forum transformed into Kelley Rink for a game of equal importance, if not equal gravity. Northeastern men’s hockey took the trip on the Green Line looking to avenge the Eagles’ convincing victory at Matthews Arena three weeks ago. While not a heavyweight matchup, the top two teams in Hockey East still had plenty of firepower for the five skaters on each side.

Well, four, really, if that team was the Eagles, at least.

For much of the night, No. 14 BC played back on its heels against No. 10 Northeastern because of constant penalty trouble. All told, the Eagles committed seven penalties on the evening, highlighted by a game misconduct by Aapeli Räsänen. The Huskies took advantage throughout the night, riding four power-play goals to a 5-2 victory and chasing starting goaltender Joseph Woll early in the second period. It was the first time since March 7, 2008 that Northeastern had defeated BC at Kelley Rink.

“We’ve had some good games here and some tough losses here and two or three ties in here … and that’s a pretty good team in that locker room now and for the many years,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said. “This group doesn’t own that. They might own one, two, three years of it, but not seven years. … Our team focused on this game because that’s the next game on the schedule.”

BC (9-7-2, 9-3-0 Hockey East) was already down one skater, as J.D. Dudek was a scratch prior to the game. That caused defenseman Connor Moore, who has been on a net-finding tear as of late, to move up to the first line at right wing alongside David Cotton and Julius Mattila. But Moore rarely got to show off his stuff in the first period. Seven minutes into the frame, Northeastern (10-5-1, 7-4-0) got its first power play of the night after a Graham McPhee slash. Seconds after Woll stoned Dylan Sikura with a quick reaction on the right pad, defenseman Jeremy Davies walked right in. He launched it past Woll’s right shoulder as the goalie was moving in that direction, just barely squeezing it through a tight window.

The Eagles couldn’t convert on an ensuing power play, as Casey Fitzgerald knocked a shot off the post. But, when Cotton was sent off for a hook minutes later, Sikura made the Eagles pay. As Woll was looking to the right, Nolan Stevens skirted the puck across the crease to the Huskies’ senior alternate captain. Woll appeared to have covered the puck, but Sikura pushed it through on his left.

Moments later, a scrum behind Northeastern’s Cayden Primeau in net led to a 5-on-3. Christopher Grando was called for a check, while Räsänen received a major for checking from behind. His ensuing reaction in the penalty box likely didn’t help him, as he yelled at the referees and motioned as if one of the Huskies flopped—Räsänen received a game misconduct and was tossed minutes later. And, as always, the two-man disadvantage didn’t help. Adam Gaudette launched one from between the circle to cap off a dominating 3-0 first period.

Things didn’t improve to open the second, either. Trevor Owens took advantage of a screen in front of Woll. He launched the puck from the left circle up high to extend the lead to 4-0. That quickly caused York to pull Woll on what has been a rough stretch of inconsistent play. In his last four games entering Saturday night, Woll had two superb performances, allowing one goal each on the road to Northeastern and Boston University. But in between those, Woll allowed four goals to Harvard and six goals to BU, both at home.

It just seemed like he was fighting the puck a little bit,” head coach Jerry York said of Woll. “Nothing he can’t fix, and some of them were screens. But I just thought we needed a boost and I just thought Joe wasn’t as comfortable as he’s looked in previous games.”

Ryan Edquist came in to replace him, but the switch didn’t work immediately. Edquist allowed Sikura to score on the power play just four minutes later. The Eagles attempted to rally back late in the second period with two goals. Michael Kim launched one from the blue line, two minutes before Brown backhanded another off a rebound to cut the lead to 5-2. But in the third period, the Huskies’ defense shut down any attempt at a BC comeback. The Eagles had a couple of strong opportunities, but luck just wasn’t on their side.

“I was hoping we’d get some of that magic from the basketball game earlier in the day,” York said. “I think if we got it to 5-3 late … we would’ve had a chance there.”

Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor

December 9, 2017

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