BOSTON — The reigning NCAA Champions returned to the ice Saturday night on the road at Matthews Arena and faced a 3-1 loss at the hands of Northeastern. At the helm of Northeastern’s offensive surge were three freshmen, and mixed with stellar goaltending from Chris Rawlings the Huskies were able to fend off a BC comeback to start the season off 2-0.
Ryan Belonger got things started with his first collegiate goal when he swatted at a Cam Darcy shot that bobbled right in front of the net and got one past Parker Milner’s shoulder. Kevin Roy was the next Husky freshman to hit the back of the net when he took a pass from Cody Ferriero across the crease and shot from just in front of the left pole.
The Northeastern lead was tested by Steven Whitney in the final minutes of the first period when he got past Rawlings with an assist from Johnny Gaudreau just eight seconds into an Eagles power play.
Both Rawlings and BC goaltender Parker Milner held off offensive opportunities in the second period, but the second Northeastern freshman to earn his first collegiate goal was waiting for a chance. Colton Saucerman beat Milner with a shot from behind the blue line at 3:42 in the third and all the Huskies had to do was defend their two-goal lead for the next 16 minutes to get their second win of the season.
What I saw
— This isn’t BC vs. Boston University, but the cross-town rivalry is still alive and well here. Charging, holding, and hitting from behind penalties made quite a few more appearances than they did in Northeastern’s Wednesday game against Merrimack. To top it off, Bill Arnold and Pat Mullane both received penalties in the game’s final second. Arnold took a minor for hitting from behind, but Mullane got five minutes for contact to the head and a ten-minute game misconduct after throwing punches at Cody Ferriero at the buzzer.
— Northeastern’s freshmen played like they had something to prove. Kevin Roy already has a goal in each of his two collegiate games and had at least three legitimate scoring chances against BC. Cam Darcy had two assists tonight and both Ryan Belonger and Colton Saucerman notched their first collegiate goals against the No. 1 team in Division 1 hockey. Saucerman played well against Merrimack, but it was left to be seen whether he’d play at the same level once some of Hockey East’s best were skating toward him. For now, Saucerman was able to hold his own against Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold.
What I thought
— After Northeastern’s Wednesday win over Merrimack, I wrote that I thought Rawlings was still shaky and unreliable. After tonight, I take some of that back. The Warriors applied minimal pressure on Rawlings, but the Eagles came at him with everything they had in the second and third periods, and he was superb. He made 31 saves on the night, with 23 of those coming in the latter two periods. Where Rawlings usually seems jumpy and looks like he had trouble following the puck, he adjusted to nearly every offensive play the Eagles threw at him. If he continues to play this way, he could be trouble for Hockey East teams. At the same time, this isn’t the first time Rawlings has performed at a high level early on, and with two games of the 2012-2013 season under his belt only time will tell if this level will last.
— The Eagles might have gotten upset tonight, but it’s important to note that unlike the Huskies, this was their first conference game of the season and their only competition since winning it all came in the form of an exhibition game against New Brunswick in which the Eagles dominated with a 6-0 win. In the first period, BC absolutely looked like a team who was playing the sluggish kind of hockey you see after the offseason. It’s not fair to assume they’ll fall off significantly, although they are a very different team than they were last year. Don’t start the “overrated” chants.
What they said
“It was a well played game. Northeastern was a little sharper than us in different areas…I thought our inability to score more goals was a direct reflection of how Rawlings played in goal. We needed more people in front to screen and deflect pucks. We just didn’t get there during the course of the night.”
— BC head coach Jerry York
“Obviously, really please with the outcome of the game. We thought out guys played really well. It was a good premonition early, I’m a little bit superstitious, and I heard the song from Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing”, which is the song that I heard when I was with the Penguins for Game 7 in Detroit and we beat the Red Wings. When I heard that song I felt a pretty good feeling going into the game.
“It’s only two games. We need to continue building a foundation, but I’m happy with our effort.”
–Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan
What else you should know
— The Eagles travel to Amherst Friday for another road game against Massachusetts, but the Huskies won’t take the ice again until Saturday when they cross town to face BC again on their home ice.
— In their last ten meetings, Northeastern trails BC 1-1-8. This is Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan’s first win over the Eagles, with three losses and one draw from his first season, 2011-2012. Jerry York is 47-16-5 in his career vs. Northeastern.