With less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation, freshman Cutter Gauthier raced past defensemen on the left wing and scored backhand to give Boston College men’s hockey a seemingly secure three-goal lead.
Despite his efforts, the Eagles (2–4–2, 2–3–1 Hockey East) struggled to defend their own zone and No. 15 Northeastern (6–2–3, 5–2–2) tallied three goals in the final 10 minutes and scored the lone shootout goal for an extra Hockey East point.
“Obviously it was a tough finish,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “Now, for the first 50 minutes, we played a lot better than we did last weekend. … So we did better in some good areas, but obviously it wasn’t enough.”
Nearly a month ago, the Eagles and Huskies battled to a hardfought tie in their first meeting of the season, which didn’t count toward their conference records. The opening game of their home-and-home series on Friday proved to be no different, and just like in October, the contest went to a shootout, which Northeastern won.
On Friday, Northeastern’s Cam Lund scored off the faceoff four minutes into the first frame and Gauthier answered just over three minutes later, beating Northeastern goaltender Devon Levi’s five-hole on the one-man advantage.
Tied at one apiece, intensity escalated in the second period. The two teams served a combined six penalties in the period, including a 10-minute game misconduct and major penalty for butt ending on Northeastern’s Matt Choupani.
With just over a minute left in the middle frame, the Eagles, high on offensive momentum, were back on the power play. Trevor Kuntar beat Levi on a second-chance scoring opportunity created by Gauthier. BC has scored at least one power play goal in each of its last six games.
Liam Izyk opened the five-goal third period, perfectly placing a rebounded shot in the fifth minute to put the Eagles up 3–1.
In the 10th minute, Gauthier extended the advantage on a solo effort for his first career two-goal and three-point performance. His goal put BC up 4–1.
But Northeastern battled back to tie the game in regulation. Just a minute after Gauthier’s goal, Jakov Novak opened the comeback effort with a wrist shot that sailed past BC goaltender Mitch Benson.
“We didn’t execute down the stretch, didn’t do the simple things to make sure you keep the lead,” Brown said. “We backed off a little bit, got a little tentative.”
With two minutes left in the final frame, Lund cut the Eagles’ lead to one on an odd-man rush, and the Huskies pulled Levi for an extra attacker.
An icing call on BC led to an offensive zone faceoff for the Huskies with 4.3 seconds remaining. Northeastern won the faceoff and Aidan McDonough took a shot. Lund tapped it in just as the buzzer sounded.
Prior to Friday night, BC led Hockey East in team faceoff percentage. The Eagles won just 27 faceoffs compared to the Huskies’ 39, and its faceoff loss in the final five seconds proved costly.
Lund finished the game with a hattrick, scored the lone goal in the shootout to defeat the Eagles and hand Northeastern an extra point in the league standings.
Despite the loss, Benson stopped 31 shots and recorded a .886 save percentage on the night. He made four saves in the scoreless overtime period and stopped two shots in the shootout before Lund’s shot got by him.
“Mitch has been solid all year for us,” Brown said. “So we have to just be a little bit better in front of him.”