The Takeaway: Northeastern defeats BU 5-4 in OT of season finale

Posted by: Jill Saftel
BOSTON — The final game of the season for Northeastern came down to overtime tonight as they battled against Boston University to end the season on a high note. The Terriers’ victory over the Huskies last night knocked Northeastern out of the Hockey East playoffs, but that didn’t stop either team from coming out strong tonight. Halfway through the overtime period, Northeastern junior forward and former BU player Vinny Saponari got a shot past goaltender Grant Rollheiser to give Northeastern the 5-4 victory in their final game this seaon.Sophomore defenseman Garrett Noonan scored two for BU tonight, once in the second and once in the third, while BU’s first two goals were scored by junior defenseman Sean Escobedo and senior captain and forward Chris Connolly in the first and second periods.Northeastern’s goals came from sophomore forward Braden Pimm in the first, junior defenseman Drew Daniels and junior forwards Alex Tuckerman and Garrett Vermeersch in the second.

What I saw

BU didn’t do a very good job of controlling the puck in its own zone, resulting in a lot of chances for Northeastern. It came from a lack thoroughness from their defensemen, something they’ll definitely need to work out heading into next weekend when they take on the University of New Hampshire in the Hockey East Quarterfinals.

Garrett Vermeersch’s smart style of play was key tonight, and will be extremely beneficial to the Huskies next season. He’s got a great wrist shot, and it’s too bad he doesn’t use it more considering a lack of shots is one of Northeastern’s big downfalls. He has one goal and an assist tonight, but he’s brought quailty production to the Husky offense all season and his 24 season points are good for third best in scoring for Northeastern.

Both teams played a rough style tonight, resulting in 27 penalties called pretty evenly, 13 for BU and 14 for Northeastern. The calls didn’t stop either team from continuing the chippy style of play.

What I thought

BU’s Garrett Noonan brings a lot of confidence and skill to his team going into Hockey East playoffs. He had six shots on goal tonight and scored two of the Terriers’ four goals.

If only Northeastern had this amount of determination and grit throughout the entire season, the end of their season may have played out quite differently. For a team with nothing to play for, they certainly looked like they made pride their top priority.

It’s a shame BU’s senior goaltender Grant Rollheiser never got a chance to be seen as a starter, because he looked really solid tonight and it’s easy to wonder how good he could have been if he hadn’t been injured, leaving Kieran Millan to take the starting goaltending job. He has similar numbers to Millan, with a 2.78 GAA and .892 save percentage to Millan’s 2.56 GAA and .914 save percentage.

What they said

“I liked our resiliency and determination out there in the game and pleased that we got the win. Obviously bittersweet that we got the win, but our season comes to an end. We’ll take some time and regroup and get ready for next season very shortly.”

– Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan

“This game was all about pride for us, we had nothing to play for, we’re out of the season. Its always fun playing BU for everyone, especially me. A lot of good friends out there, Grant Rollheiser was like one of my roommates freshman and sophomore year so it’s pretty funny to get a goal against him in overtime. It’s just a lot of fun and it feels good because we wanted to go out with a win. We won’t be the same team next year so it’s a good feeling just to get one more positive note for that group of guys.”

– Vinny Saponari

“We’ve got to see what we did wrong. They’re physical mistakes because of mental errors, it’s just guys not mentally prepared to play and its nothing that’s not correctable. It’s actually very easily correctable if you’re doing the right things and we’re focused and ready to play. So I think it starts with a thorough week of practice. Like I said, guys are going to be geared up and ready for the playoffs and excited for the postseason, but especially defensively we need to clean up a lot of areas.”

– Chris Connolly

What they didn’t say

Madigan said he didn’t want anyone to read into his inclusion of Steve Quailer and Alex Tuckerman, both redshirt juniors, in tonight’s senior night ceremony and that he wanted to honor them with the class they came in with as Mike McLaughlin was the lone graduating senior. While Madigan didn’t give specifics on the plans of his two players, he did say that they’ll determine their next steps in the coming months, and that they’ll take some time to reassess their situations but that they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it. From the sounds of that, it seems like at least Quailer, a Montreal Canadiens draft, may not be back next year for the Huskies.

What else you should know

Northeastern’s season is over and Madigan said they’ll be looking to making plans for next season very soon. He mentioned that holding players more accountable for their actions will be key for the team next year and something he really looks to focus on.

BU is gearing up for the Hockey East playoffs where they’ll face UNH in a best of three series beginning Friday. Saturday’s game will be at 4 p.m. and televised on NESN. The Terriers swept the season series against the Wildcats this year, and BU has only faced off against UNH once before in Hockey East quarterfinals in 1986, which the Terriers won.

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