By: Joe Pohoryles
BOSTON – The Boston University Terriers (6-6-5, 4-3-4 HE) loved putting up at least five goals against a crosstown rival so much, they decided to do it again the next game. Following a 5-2 victory against the then-No. 9/12 Harvard University Crimson on Dec. 3, the Terriers took down the No. 8/12 Northeastern University Huskies 6-3 last night at Agganis Arena.
The intensity came soon after the opening faceoff, as the Terriers gave the puck away in the defensive zone three times within the first two minutes of the game, but no real danger came of it. The opening frame saw the Huskies hold most of the puck possession, but their mode of attack centralized around moving the puck behind the net and looking to use wrap-arounds to beat Tucker, to no avail.
Just over seven minutes into the first period, the Terriers cleared the puck to the stick of senior assistant captain Patrick Harper, who split two defenders, and used his speed to get right on the doorstep, backhanding the puck over graduate goaltender Craig Pantano’s glove.
“[Harper] is playing terrific. He’s gotta be one of the best players in the country . . . he’s a difference maker on the ice, he’s a difference maker in our locker room, and in practice he brings it every day,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said.
Despite the 1-0 lead, the Terriers entered the first intermission behind 17-7 on the shot count, and it was expected for Northeastern to fight harder to get back into the game, but no one could have expected how it happened.
Just 33 seconds into period two, Huskies’ senior forward Matt Filipe threw a puck on net where unmarked junior forward Zach Solow caught the rebound and jammed it home to tie the game up. Only 12 seconds after that, the lead was theirs after a nearly identical play, as senior forward John Picking caught a shot that bounced off BU graduate goaltender Sam Tucker and capitalized.
“You know there’s gonna be ebbs and flows in the game . . . so we just tried to stay calm, and build some momentum back in the second period,” Tucker said.
And build momentum back they did. The Terriers managed to tie the game back up 40 seconds thanks to sophomore forward Jack DeBoer’s first of the season, but the Huskies made the game 3-2 soon after on a power play opportunity.
The Terriers nearly looked down and out, but the new-look lines that debuted against Harvard changed the narrative. First was the “Avon Old Farms” line, where a forecheck by freshman forward Trevor Zegras quickly turned into a two-on-one opportunity, and Harper slammed the pass home before Pantano could shift over.
Then it was the new second line that took the lead, as freshman forward Ethan Phillips pickpocketed Northeastern freshman defenseman Mike Kesserling, dishing to senior captain Patrick Curry from behind the net, who then found a streaking Robert Mastrosimone, and the freshman forward regained the lead at 4-3.
The Terriers never looked back, as an insurance tally by freshman defenseman Domenick Fensore and a third period empty-netter from sophomore forward Matthew Quercia solidified a well-earned victory for the Terriers after killing off four Northeastern power play opportunities in the third period.
Zegras led with three points on the night, all assists, and nearly netted one or two goals of his own, and Tucker saved 37 of 40 shots. Northeastern’s sophomore forward Tyler Madden had his seven-game point streak snapped, and Pantano had a night to forget, allowing five goals on 21 shots.
“I thought our manager did a good job, and our equipment manager did a good job, and our strength and conditioning coach, but not much after that,” Northeastern bench boss Jim Madigan said of his team’s performance.
The Terriers will ride the two-game win streak into the break, and continue their winning ways when they return to action on Dec. 29 in an exhibition game against the Concordia University Stingers at Walter Brown Arena.