Davies-less Huskies beat BC 4-2, Primeau saves 41


Albert Tamura

Sophomore goalkeeper Cayden Primeau drops to make a pad save in a prior game against Providence.

Mike Puzzanghera, sports editor

After a tough defeat on the road against Boston College Friday, Northeastern desperately needed a response Saturday.

The loss dropped them down to 13th in the Pairwise rankings, worsening their position for the NCAA tournament. With only two games left in the conference season, Northeastern could finish anywhere from second to seventh in the final standings. To make matters worse, they had to play against the same BC team that beat them, this time without arguably their best skater.

The Jeremy Davies-less Huskies (22-10-1, 14-8-1 HEA) faced the Eagles (11-19-3, 10-10-3 HEA) at Matthews Arena in an attempt to avenge their 3-1 loss the prior night. Davies received a one-game suspension from Hockey East after a game misconduct penalty at 19:28 of the third period of Friday’s game.

Davies has amassed 32 points this season, leading the team, and was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award in January. Davies was also  in good form recently, winning the Hockey East Player of the Month award for February after scoring 12 points on three goals and nine assists. In his stead, other players would need to step up if the Huskies were to win Saturday. And they did, beating BC 4-2.

Freshman defenseman AJ Villella was the first to step up, pulling out a moment of magic to give the Huskies the 1-0 lead with less than four minutes off the clock. Ryan Shea played a pass to Villella at the point, and he slapped the puck top-shelf, giving BC goalkeeper Joe Woll no time to react.

“We dressed seven defensemen out here tonight, and four of them got a lot of ice time: [Julian] Kislin, [Eric] Williams, Shea and [Jordan] Harris obviously logged a lot of minutes, they were all probably 23-24 plus,” head coach Jim Madigan said of his short-staffed defense. “I thought AJ Villella did a good job. Carrabino and Murphy were used sparingly but did a good job when they went out there. They all stepped up.”

Seconds later, Zach Solow almost had a second, flicking a backhand towards the same corner Villella hit, only to be denied by the pipe.

The Huskies hit a second pipe later in the period when Matt Filipe broke through on goal after stealing the puck from a BC defender. Filipe lined up a wrister, but hit the outside of the pipe, barely missing his eighth goal of the year.

Late in the period, BC had a goal taken away as forward David Cotton had the puck in the back of the net, but the whistle had blown before the puck bounced out of NU goalkeeper Cayden Primeau’s mitt toward Cotton.

The first period ended with a strong spell of BC pressure, resulting in 15 saves by Primeau. Despite the shot margin (BC outshooting NU 15-8), NU held the lead going into the locker room.

The Huskies absorbed the BC pressure and lashed out when given a power-play opportunity. They generated two huge chances with the extra man through freshman forward Tyler Madden, who ripped a shot at Woll before getting it back off the rebound and seeing his effort cleared away by a BC defender.

Primeau pulled off one of the saves of the season with 0.2 seconds left in the second period, flying back across his goal to glove a Julius Mattila rocket that was bound for the top corner.

Fresh out of the penalty box with just over a minute off the clock in the third, senior forward Patrick Schule gave Northeastern a 2-0 lead. After sitting for the start of the period following a late-second-period penalty, Schule raced out of the box looking to make an impact. He took a pass from Harris and, after seeing his first shot blocked, ripped the rebound off the pipe and in for his 10th goal of the year.

Just minutes later the Huskies got their third after beautiful passing gave senior forward Brandon Hawkins an opening to score his ninth of the season. John Picking played a centering pass to Harris, who unselfishly made the extra pass to set up Hawkins in front of the net. He rifled his shot past Woll at the left post to give the Huskies a 3-0 lead.

“For defensemen, the faster they can move it up to our forwards then join the rush, I think that’s the most important thing. So i thought he did a better job here today just moving pucks and then joining the rush. He made a real good play there on that goal, it was a big goal for us, and he defended well in his own zone,” Madigan said of Harris.

The Huskies pressed on, looking to better their rivals’ goal tally from the prior night, a feat which they accomplished when senior forward Austin Plevy scored the fourth goal. Picking once again played a dangerous pass across the face of goal, and Plevy got just enough contact on it to redirect it past Woll and in off the post.

BC would grab a goal back with just over three minutes remaining with David Cotton scoring his 20th of the season. Cotton found a rebound in front of the net and slid his shot past Primeau into the bottom left corner of the goal.

Pressing with an extra attacker after pulling Woll, the Eagles got their second goal through Aapeli Rasanen, who scored his fifth goal of the season off another rebound in front. Despite continuing to press, the game would end 4-2 NU.

“Towards the end when you’re nursing a four goal lead at that point, they were coming and they were pressing and they had a few more shots, but I liked our third period,” Madigan said. “Certainly there’s things we’ve got to get a little bit better at, managing pucks a little bit better, being a little more poised with it, but it was a good team win.”

Primeau stopped 41 of the 43 shots he faced, only conceding the two goals off rebounds.

“I thought Cayden Primeau was just immense there, kid gave us a chance to win the game,” Madigan said. “First two periods he was really good.”

The Huskies return to Matthews for their final regular season game Friday against New Hampshire (12-12-9, 8-9-6 HEA). Both teams will be playing for playoff positioning, having already clinched a spot in the tournament.