No. 12/14 Northeastern comes away with tie after close contest with crosstown rival Boston College


Z Weber

The Huskies face off against Boston College in their game Tuesday evening.

Ariana Ottrando, news staff

Following its first loss of the season Saturday against Providence College, the Northeastern men’s hockey team (3-1-1, 2-1-0 HE) brought the heat Tuesday in Matthews Arena against conference rival Boston College (1-1-1, 1-0-0 HE) in a non-conference matchup. After the tight 65-minute battle ended 3-3, Northeastern came out on top with a 2-1 shootout victory. 

The back and forth game served as a test to both playmaking and goaltending as the Huskies and Eagles traded off leads and swings in momentum. 

Starting the first period off strong, Northeastern was taking pucks to the net at every possible chance — a rare trend in its first few matches thus far. With two penalties in the first five minutes of regulation, one for each team, neither was able to shift the game in its favor until a tripping penalty was called on BC freshman forward Andre Gasseau at 10:25 into the first. 

Not even 30 seconds into the power play, NU capitalized on this second opportunity and took the 1-0 lead off a signature goal from senior forward and captain Aidan McDonough — a one-timer from the right face-off dot — for his 50th as a Husky. McDonough ripped the puck off the post and past BC graduate student goalie Mitch Benson 11 minutes into the first from perfectly-placed feeds by junior forwards Gunnarwolfe Fontaine and Sam Colangelo. 

“Our power play: We got a goal, but I didn’t think we were sharp — especially on that last one,” said head coach Jerry Keefe. “We looked a little bit out of sync tonight. We want to be a team that’s really dangerous every time we go on the ice on the power play.”

While Boston College made strides toward its first goal — the shot count ending 10-10 in the first — junior goalie Devon Levi snatched and jumped on shots, preventing BC from getting on the board. Northeastern held onto the one-goal lead going into first intermission.

“We didn’t move our feet enough in the first period, so that was our message [in the locker room],” said Boston College head coach Greg Brown. “We can create chances with energy and speed.”

Momentum quickly shifted when BC came into the second period rejuvenated, and McDonough took a penalty for cross-checking two minutes in, putting BC on the power play. The Eagles then returned the favor when junior forward and assistant captain Trevor Kuntar took the puck on a breakout and fired it from the right wing with enough space to get past Levi for his first goal of the season. Kuntar scored at 2:57 into the second with help from freshman forward Oskar Jellvik and freshman defenseman Lukas Gustafsson. 

The ball didn’t stop rolling for BC. Four minutes later, at 6:53, the Eagles took the 2-1 lead with the first even-strength goal of the game. The puck started with BC senior defenseman and captain Marshall Warren who found junior forward Nikita Nesterenko toward the blue line. Nesterenko sauced the puck up the neutral zone to junior forward Colby Ambrosio who then broke through NU’s defense for a partial breakaway and tipped the puck over Levi’s right pad.

Now down 1-2 within the first half of the second, the pressure fell back on the Huskies — but not for long. 

After a couple solid minutes of play from Northeastern, leader of the fourth line, senior forward Matt DeMelis passed the puck from the low slot to sophomore defenseman Braden Doyle in the high slot. Doyle then found sophomore forward Matt Choupani backdoor, who swarmed the crease with the other forwards until DeMelis tipped it past Benson and came out with the tying goal for his first of the season at 11:04. 

“You can put [DeMelis] out there in any situation. He did a great job of putting a puck behind the d[efense], we went and got it. He gets to the net and scores on the backdoor,” Keefe said. “I thought that was a big lift for our guys.”

Neither team came alive in the third period until eight minutes in when BC retook the lead and made it a 3-2 game. BC freshman forward and fifth overall NHL draft pick Cutter Gauthier carried the puck up the neutral zone and past NU’s defense, where he was able to get a shot from the right circle behind Levi for his first collegiate goal. Gauthier’s goal was assisted by Ambrosio and freshman defenseman Charlie Leddy.

During Gauthier’s rush to Northeastern’s net, a slashing penalty was called on senior defenseman Jeremie Bucheler and the Huskies were on the penalty kill immediately after letting up a goal. Fortunately for NU, the kill only persisted for 39 seconds until Ambrosio was sent to the penalty box for hooking and 4-on-4 play began.

Momentum was back in Northeastern’s corner when sophomore forward Jack Hughes hopped off the bench with 15 seconds left of 4-on-4. Taking control of a low-to-high slot pass by freshman forward Cam Lund, Hughes dangled around BC’s defense and fired the puck into the top-right corner over Benson’s shoulder at 9:52 to tie the game at three and take it into overtime with his first goal of the season.

“It felt good to get back in the game, kinda give us a chance to win it,” Hughes said. “Feels a little bit better to squeak out that win, little bit of a confidence booster going into next weekend.”

Keefe acknowledged Hughes’ skills and how effective of a player he can be with that extra time and space. 

“Huge goal by Jack Hughes, big time play by him,” Keefe said. “Jack’s an elite play-maker. He’s a guy that we want to use [for] 4-on-4.”

Five minutes of overtime saw numerous scoring opportunities for both sides. The Eagles had more high-quality chances, but Levi was the difference and solidified the 3-3 tie on record.

“You really gotta get in front of [Levi],” Brown said. “That’s the biggest thing when you know you’re playing with a high-quality goalie. If [Levi] sees it, he’s going to save it.”

In the shootout, Levi saved two out of three shots by BC, and McDonough and Hughes each tallied one goal for the unofficial win. 

“We need to do a better job at getting pucks up the ice quicker and cleaner,” Keefe said. “That’s the number one area for us. I think it starts there, not getting caught in our d[efensive]-zone.”

The Huskies will host the University of Massachusetts Lowell Riverhawks for the Hockey East Game of the Week on NESN Saturday, Oct. 22. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.