Northeastern beats BC to reach Hockey East title game for first time since 1988

Scott McLaughlin
March 18, 2016 - 8:57 pm

Northeastern will play in the Hockey East championship game for the first time since 1988. The Huskies continued their incredible second-half run by beating Boston College 5-4 Friday night in the conference semifinals to improve to 19-1-2 over their last 22 games. They'll take on UMass Lowell, who beat Providence in triple overtime in Friday's first semifinal, in Saturday night's title game at TD Garden. Northeastern scored twice late in the first period and added a pair of power-play goals in the second to build up a 4-2 lead. After BC cut it to 4-3, Lincoln Griffin made it 5-3 with 10:16 left in the game when a terrible backwards pass by Colin White sent him in alone on Thatcher Demko. Alex Tuch cut it to 5-4 a minute later, but the Huskies were able to close out the win from there. The Huskies dominated for lengthy stretches of the game, as they held BC to seven shots on goal through the first 30 minutes and were up 22-11 in shots at the end of the second. The win increases their chances of getting an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament if they don't win Saturday night, although they're still not a lock. A win Saturday would guarantee them a spot. The Eagles couldn't have asked for a better first shift, as Miles Wood raced down the left side and beat Ryan Ruck five-hole to give them a 1-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game. Unfortunately for them, the rest of the first period was all Northeastern. The Huskies outshot BC 10-4 in the opening 20 minutes and tied the game at 1-1 with 5:52 left in the period. Nolan Stevens got things going with a great breakout before hitting Zach Aston-Reese with a pass through the neutral zone. Aston-Reese then made a nice move to get around Ian McCoshen before beating Demko low to the glove side. It appeared the game would remain tied going into the first intermission, but Northeastern took advantage of a late defensive breakdown by BC to make it 2-1 with 0.9 seconds left in the period. Dylan Sikura found Mike McMurtry in the slot, and McMurtry made a heads-up play to pass on the shot and find Adam Gaudette wide open at the right post for an easy tap-in. BC responded just 1:10 into the second with Matthew Gaudreau made a nice pass from behind the net to find White for the freshman's 19th goal of the season. But just like the first period, Northeastern then took control after BC's goal. The Huskies took a 3-2 lead on the power play just 1:45 later when Nolan Stevens rushed down the left side, dragged around McCoshen and fired a shot blocker-side for his 18th goal of the season. Northeastern's power play struck again eight minutes later when Eric Williams walked in from the point and ripped a slap shot glove-side. The Eagles cut the lead to 4-3 with a power-play goal of their own with 6:06 left in the second. Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald made a nice pass to find Wood at the right post and Wood's shot just squeaked through Ruck's pads for his second goal of the game. The Eagles were already locked into the NCAA tournament before Friday and will now wait for Sunday's selection show to see where they'll be for regionals next weekend.