Primeau vs. Oettinger: A goalie battle of quality vs. quantity

The BU goaltender made 47 saves. Primeau’s 26 were enough for the win


Alex Melagrano

BU goalie Jake Oettinger skates off after the Huskies scored in overtime on their 49th shot. Oettinger’s incredible 47 saves weren’t enough.

Mike Puzzanghera and Sofie Kato

As chants of “Oettinger! Oettinger! Oettinger, you suck!” rang down from the DogHouse Monday evening, one had to ask: Does he?

NU fans already know just how good their sophomore goalie Cayden Primeau has been since joining the team last season. Affectionately dubbed “Uncle Primeau” by the Northeastern fan base, the keeper has pulled out miraculous saves seemingly every game since he debuted against Sacred Heart in the second game of the 2017-18 season (and shut them out).

But BU’s Jake Oettinger seemed to do the same Monday night. After giving up four goals to NU in the Beanpot final last season, the netminder played like a man possessed. Despite giving up an early goal to NU’s Patrick Schule, Oettinger looked to be at his best early.

As the game developed, and chance after chance went by for both teams, the only players that looked solid were Primeau and Oettinger. Yes, both conceded one in the first, but only someone who wasn’t at the game would think any less of them for it.

It ended as an age-old battle of quality vs. quantity. While Oettinger had much more work to do in net, Primeau was vital for NU, stopping multiple one-on-ones.

“They were both really good, they were tracking pucks really well, there were screens in front of both of them; they were able to find pucks,” NU head coach Jim Madigan said. “That’s the sign of a great goaltender and they just both played with confidence and you could see with Oettinger and certainly with Cayden.”

Starting in the first, the two traded saves. Primeau exited with 10 the period, while Oettinger racked up 13.

BU was attacking on the power play after the first goal from Schule after a Pecararo penalty for hooking. There was a scrum in front of the net, and Primeau combined with all four Husky skaters to keep the puck away.

Oettinger responded by saving quality shots from Jordan Harris, Schule, Tyler Madden and Ryan Shea.

As the game moved to the second period, both teams lacked the attacking quality that they needed in front of the net.

At the start of the second, Jake Oettinger made two phenomenal saves. The first came against Brandon Hawkins, as the senior forward redirected a cross at point-blank range towards the net. Oettinger slid across to make the save and keep the game level.

Liam Pecararo had the next NU chance. He lined up a shot, but Oettinger pulled off a fantastic glove save to deny the forward.

Primeau pulled out two phenomenal saves on breakaways by BU leading scorer Joel Farabee in the second period. The freshman forward broke through NU’s defensive line twice, but both times Primeau denied him. The second save saw Farabee try to get around Primeau, but the NU netminder went down low to his left to clear the threat.

“He had them from quite a ways out so I just tried to get out as far as possible and the ice wasn’t too great so I didn’t think he was gonna try and do too much as far as a deke,” Primeau said. “So I just tried to get as big as possible and you know just ended up on top.”

At the end of the second, Oettinger totaled 23 saves while Primeau had 18. As both teams made their way to the locker room, the question loomed: Which keeper would break first?

Northeastern came out of the locker room on fire. They peppered the BU goal with shots, but none could breach Oettinger. He made a save to deny Schule right as the period began before making a smart double save against Jeremy Davies.

For the rest of the period, the keepers had plenty of work to do. Primeau stopped a strong effort from BU a little over midway through the period. He also made some tough saves when BU went to the power play at the end of the third, denying the first shot with ease before swatting away an attempt with the handle of his stick in the last action of regulation. He had eight saves in the period and 26 in total.

Oettinger was instrumental in helping BU kill off two NU power plays in the second half of the third. He stopped everything that came at him, and totaled 24 saves in the period. This gave him a ridiculous 47 for the game.

“Jake was great, he was solid,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said. “He really didn’t make a mistake all night. He was calm after the first shot, it looked like he was a little jumpy and then after the first goal he was pretty damn perfect and he played a terrific game, probably one of the best games he’s played wearing the BU jersey.”

The dam broke soon after the overtime period started. Davies slid a pass through to Madden at the attacking blue line, who found himself through on goal with only Oettinger to beat. Fittingly, the keeper got a piece of the final shot, but it was not enough, as it trickled in and sent the Huskies into rapture.

“We tip our cap to Primeau, you know he’s a great goalie, and those were two huge saves,” O’Connell said. “They made a play on a breakaway and we didn’t.”

Primeau ended with a well-deserved win, and Oettinger finished as the tough-luck loser. He stopped 47 shots, but unfortunately for him, NU sent 49 on frame.

“I thought both goalies were outstanding,” Madigan said. “There was offense, there was a lot of defense obviously, you know in a 2-1 overtime game. We had more shots than they did but they had some good quality saves and you know they had some breakaway saves and you know our guys just stuck to it the whole game and brought in our game plan.”

In the end, quality beat quantity, Primeau beat Oettinger and Northeastern beat BU for the second year running. Primeau will almost certainly face BC goalie Joe Woll next Monday for the coveted Beanpot trophy.