November 3, 2013

Gilmour's OT goal propels Eagles to weekend sweep of NU

By Joshua Kummins

Adam Gilmour (left) buried the game-winner in overtime to lift BC to victory over the host Huskies. (Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)

Final: Boston College 4, Northeastern 3 (OT)

Recap: It was a raucous night at historic Matthews Arena and the sold-out crowd of 4,746 saw about all you could ask for. There were goals, there were big hits, there was solid goaltending and, in the end, there was overtime.

The Eagles dominated the early stages, holding the Huskies off the shot chart for the better part of seven minutes, but NU junior Torin Snydeman (Groton, Mass.) scored on the first shot on goal, flicking a loose puck past BC junior stopper Brian Billett (Brunswick, Maine) at 7:57 of the opening stanza.

BC evened the score at 10:58 as rookie Ryan Fitzgerald (North Reading, Mass.) took a 2-on-1 feed from senior Kevin Hayes (Dorchester, Mass.) for his third goal of the year and second in as many nights.

After a scoreless second, Northeastern took what seemed to be a commanding 3-1 lead by the 6:30 mark of the third on goals by freshman Mike Szmatula and sophomore Colton Saucerman, but the Eagles stood large and took charge for the rest of the night to claim victory.

Eagle captain Patrick Brown brought the Maroon and Gold within 3-2 with the squad's second shorthanded goal against the Huskies in as many nights - off a 3-on-2 breakaway with second-year Michael Matheson at 7:50.

Junior Johnny Gaudreau had his usual "wow moment" of the game at 12:51 of the third, banking a shot from the goal line off the back side of NU's Clay Witt to finish off a feed from sophomore Teddy Doherty (Hopkinton, Mass.).

60 minutes was not enough to settle the score, but 61:36 was plenty for Eagle rookie winger Adam Gilmour (Hanover, Mass.) on this night as he corralled a rebound between the circles for a soft shot that evaded Witt and squeaked over the goal line.

Records: Northeastern 5-3-0 (0-2-0 Hockey East), Boston College 4-2-1 (2-0-0 Hockey East)

Key Play of the Game: Although it only made the score 3-2, Brown's shorthanded wrist shot goal was what ultimately led to the floodgates opening for the Eagles. Off a crisp pass to the faceoff circle from Matheson, it turned all the momentum in the visitors' direction.

Plus: There is truth to the adage that the two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey, and the Eagles proved it with three unanswered goals to silence what was a previously energetic crowd in a building that houses one of the greatest home-ice advantages in the nation.

At both ends, goaltending was a huge strong point as Billett and Witt matched each other save-for-save. Witt's 36 stops included 12 in the first and a whopping 16 in the middle stanza, while one of Billett's highlights was a breakaway stop on Adam Reid, who had the entire 200 feet to work with but was denied.

Minus: For the Huskies, the night's performance certainly does not fall completely in the negative, but the power play was a huge downfall. Despite attempting 14 shots in seven chances, head coach Jim Madigan was not pleased with his team's looks skating a man up.

Notable: As mentioned, Brown's shorthanded goal was BC's second in as many games. Brown himself is now one of just five Division I players with two goals in man-down situations this year. ... Gaudreau has now registered a pair of goals in two games and six over the first seven contests this year, which ranks tied for sixth in the nation. ... All of a sudden, the Huskies find themselves in a six-game losing streak to the Eagles. They have not won a game in the head-to-head series since a 3-1 decision at Matthews on Oct. 13, 2012.

Quotable: "I think I'm going to sleep pretty well now. ... Those were two pretty hard-fought games by the Eagles and Huskies this weekend. I thought tonight was a real goaltending battle and we really stole the game." -Jerry York's overall thoughts on the weekend and his team's composure to stay in the game.

"Not too many (can do what Johnny Gaudreau does). He sees the ice better than anyone I've ever played with, and it's pretty cool." -BC captain Patrick Brown on Johnny Gaudreau's outstanding instincts and ability.

Final Thoughts: A match of two rivals brings out the best in both sides and the game was a big one in front of a great crowd. The Husky defense had a bit of trouble containing the speed and skill of BC's offense and its top two lines in particular, but improvements in that department are sure to come with time as well as some game experience.

Losing four points on the weekend may hurt now, but the experiences gained this weekend will help a young team like NU grow.

Next: The Eagles continue their Beanpot opponent stretch next Friday night as they head down the B-Line for the first of two scheduled league dates with archrival Boston University. Northeastern will have an extra night of rest before making the brisk highway drive to No. 15 UMass Lowell on Saturday.  

Twitter: @JoshuaKummins