With eight minutes left in regulation and a 3-3 tie on the scoreboard, Peter McArthur (SED’08) blasted a power play slap shot past Northeastern goaltender Jake Thaler in a Saturday night showdown at Agganis Area. Less than a minute later, David Van der Gulik (CAS’06) knocking a dribbling puck into an empty net, cementing a 5-3 victory and ultimately handing BU the crown for Hockey East regular season play for the first time in six years.
Until the final minutes of Saturday night’s game, the fate of the Terriers, who had lost once in the last 17 games, remained up in the air. It was a hard-fought contest from the start. John Laliberte (SHA’06) opened BU’s scoring by tying the game 1-1 with a one-timer from a feed by defenseman Tom Morrow (MET’07). After Northeastern knotted the game 1-1, Brian Ewing (CAS’08) batted MacArthur’s rebound out of the air for BU’s second goal, but the first period ended in a 2-2 tie after the Huskies scored a power play goal.
The tie was broken in the second period by forward Kenny Roche (CAS’07), who faked a pass and slid the puck between Thaler’s pads. While BU outshot Northeastern 35-21, the home team appeared to be unable to hang onto the lead: a few minutes later, a confusing flurry of action in front of the BU goal ended with the game tied again, 3-3. And while BU appeared to control long stretches of play, Northeastern battled all the way to the finish.
Later that night, the BU team stood riveted to a TV, as they watched New Hampshire score three goals in the final minutes of their game against Boston College. The Wildcats’ win put BU one point ahead of Maine and BC, and firmly the top of the Hockey East heap. The Terriers, who played the entire season without setting foot in first place, will now play eighth-seeded UMass in a quarterfinal best-of-three series that starts this Friday at Agganis Arena. The Terriers are 2-1 against the Minutemen this season, losing 4-2 on November 12 before beating them twice during BU’s 11-game winning streak in January and February.
The victory capped a weekend sweep of Northeastern. On Friday night Thaler frustrated BU in the first two periods, stopping 27 of 28 shots and giving the Huskies a 2-1 lead. But BU exploded for four goals in the third stanza, including a second tally by defenseman Dan Spang (CAS’06) that tied the game midway through the period. The teams traded goals in the next three minutes, but forward Kenny Roche (CAS’07) scored the game-winner on a power play with 2:14 left.
BU was picked to finish fifth in the conference in a Hockey East preseason coaches’ poll, while defending champion Boston College was predicted to finish at the top. Now BU is ranked third in the nation and faces the possibility of earning the number one seed in the NCAA East Regional tournament at the DCU Center in Worcester March 24 and 25.