By Bailey Putnam, deputy sports editor
In a battle with cross-town rival Boston University (BU), the Northeastern University (NU) men’s hockey team came up short this weekend, losing a back-and-forth affair on Friday at Agganis Arena. They fell to the Terriers again the following night at home, 4-1. The Huskies (1-7-1) have not won a game since their season-opener against Colgate on Oct. 10.
Staring down the No. 11 team in the country on the road, the Huskies rose to the occasion early in the game on Friday night, outshooting the Terriers 40-29 and leading by a goal after two periods.
A two-goal third helped BU surge ahead and squash Northeastern’s chances of picking up a much-needed win.
“We need to learn to play 60 minutes,” Head Coach Jim Madigan said in a press conference after the game. “Right now, we’re not closing games out and not playing focused hockey for 60 minutes.”
The Terriers were the first to strike on Friday. BU senior defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, in his first appearance on the ice this year after suffering a preseason knee injury, scored midway through the first period. BU extended its lead six minutes into the second frame when sophomore defenseman Brandon Forunato fired a shot past NU freshman goaltender Ryan Ruck.
Northeastern responded just over two minutes later when freshman forward Adam Gaudette scored his second goal of the season. Gaudette deflected a shot from junior defenseman Matt Benning, redirecting the puck past BU sophomore goalie Connor LaCouvee.
Six minutes after getting on the board, the Huskies knotted the game at 2-2 when sophomore defenseman Garret Cockerill notched his first goal of the season. Junior forward Dalen Hedges set Cockerill up on the power play for the tying goal.
The 75 seconds following Cockerill’s goal were the most action-packed moments of the game, featuring three goals and two lead-changes in the short window of time.
BU was the first to cash in during the action, netting a goal 34 seconds after Cockerill’s and reclaiming the lead.
Northeastern’s response was even faster. Sophomore forward Dylan Sikura tied the game just twelve seconds after the BU goal, shooting a puck off a Terrier defenseman’s stick and into the net.
The Huskies took their first lead of the night, with 4:55 to go in the period, when freshman defenseman Eric Williams netted the second goal of his collegiate career. Williams launched a slap shot from the right point past the glove hand of LaCouvee. The Huskies finished the period with a 4-3 lead.
However, they were unable to hang on to the lead in the final frame. The Terriers owned the third period, blanking the Huskies and putting away a pair of goals that lifted them to a 5-4 victory. The defeat was Northeastern’s third one-goal loss in four games.
“Obviously not the outcome we’re looking for,” Madigan said. “We’ve been in a stretch of these games where they’ve been one-goal games, and we’ve had plenty of opportunities and not been able to cash in at the right time. Then, defensively, having some lapses that hurt us. In the third period, when they scored twice to take the lead in a 3 1/2-minute span, [that] is what we’re trying to avoid, and we have to develop a little more poise and composure to our game.”
The Huskies did not fare well in Saturday night’s sold-out game at Matthews Arena. Northeastern trailed for the entire 60 minutes and could not find the back of the net until late in the third period when the game was already sealed.
BU came out flying, putting 18 shots on goal in the first period. Grzelcyk cashed in early on a power play opportunity after junior forward Ryan Rosenthal was sent to the penalty box for cross checking.
Ruck, who recorded a career-high 30 saves, made a series of key stops in the remainder of the period to keep the Terriers off the board again. His toughest save of the night came when he slid across the crease and barely deflected a shot with his toe to prevent a goal on a wide-open opportunity.
BU scored again in the second period and kept Northeastern off the board despite several scoring opportunities. Senior forward Kevin Roy couldn’t tap the puck in on a two-on-one chance – the captain has been held scoreless thus far this season. The Huskies headed into the locker room down 2-0 going into the final period.
After an empty-net BU goal late in the third, Gaudette was finally able to get the Huskies on the board, burying a rebound after junior forward Sam Kurker was denied on the doorstep. The goal, which came with less than a minute remaining in the game, was too little, too late, and another BU empty-netter solidified a Husky loss.
“[I’m] disappointed with the weekend,” Madigan said. “We’re measured by wins and losses and to not come away with any points is frustrating. It’s a frustrating group right now, and I just told them the only way we’re going to get through this is we have to work harder, we have to get better and not focus so much on the record, just focus on getting better each and every day in practice and take the weekends as they come.”
The Huskies now head to South Bend, Ind. to take on Notre Dame on Thursday and Friday night.
Photo by Brian Bae