By: Dan Shulman
For the 225th time in history, the Northeastern Huskies and the Boston University Terriers took the ice against each other for a physical, fast-paced affair. Two third period goals powered the Terriers to a hard-fought 5-4 victory over their cross-town rival.
Senior captain and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk made his first appearance of the season, starting alongside Charlie McAvoy on the blue line. It took eleven seconds for Grzelcyk to get involved, as he took an interference penalty.
Brandon Hickey took a hooking penalty just four minutes later, and again, the Terriers killed the man-advantage.
Grzelcyk looked to stay involved in the game, and did just that halfway through the period. Taking a crisp pass along the point from McAvoy, Grzelcyk fired a wrist shot that beat Huskies’ freshman goalie Ryan Ruck to give BU an early lead.
As the second period started, the game began to slow down. Killing off yet another penalty thanks to two blocked shots from BU defenseman Doyle Somerby, the Terriers, through Brandon Fortunato, doubled their lead.
As Ahti Oksanen came off the bench for BU, he took a rink-width pass into the zone and shot the puck. The rebound found its way to Fortunato who made no mistake putting in the back of the net.
Northeastern refused to stay silenced, scoring two minutes later to cut the deficit in half. Defenseman Matt Benning fired a shot from the point that was deflected by Adam Gaudette past a sprawling Connor LaCouvee. After a long official review, the call stood.
“I didn’t like the way our team reacted after giving up that goal,” said Terrier head coach David Quinn. “I think our youth really showed and we lost focus. We’ve got to be mentally tough and live in the moment, and we didn’t do that.”
BU took another penalty, this time for having too many men on the ice. With four seconds left on the power play for Northeastern, Garrett Cockerill beat LaCouvee to even the score at two. This began a sequence of four goals in 1 minute, 15 seconds for both teams.
BU forward Ryan Cloonan was next, stealing a puck at center ice and beating Ruck on the breakaway to regain the lead for the Terriers.
However, the Huskies came back once again, scoring twelve seconds later. Nolan Stevens led an odd man rush for the Huskies, and after a sequence of passing, Dylan Sikura beat LaCouvee with a tap in goal.
Moments later, it was Eric Williams scoring for Northeastern, firing a wrist shot that beat LaCouvee to his glove side.
Things continued to go downhill for BU, as they failed to convert on a power play, and went back on the penalty kill to start the third.
The momentum shifted as BU killed off a 5-on-3 advantage for Northeastern, who was forced to use their timeout to slow down the game.
Seconds later, it was Brandon Hickey taking a feed from Oksanen for a powerful shot into a vacant cage to level things up once again.
“We got some talented guy [on defense],” said Quinn. “We got guys who can shoot pucks, guys who understand when to fill a seem in the offensive zone.”
BU would retake the lead for good three minutes later. Oksanen took a slick feed from Grzelcyk and finished past an out-of-position Ruck.
“It was an unreal stick-to-stick pass by Grzelcyk,” said Oksanen.
In the final minutes, with the Northeastern net empty and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson in the box for a questionable delay of game penalty, the Terriers nearly lost the lead when a shot ping-ponged around the crease, only to be cleared off the line by BU.
Connor LaCouvee stood tall over the Huskies’ onslaught of shots in the final minutes, keeping every shot out of the net.
“I was just trying to stay in front of the puck to try and keep it out,” said LaCouvee. “The guys had been battling hard all game and I was just trying to help them out there.
With nine seconds left, BU won the faceoff and Somerby held the puck in the corner for the final ticks of the clock, sealing the win for BU.
“I’m really proud of our team,” said Quinn.