About 8 games into the season, if you had said BC would go to Matthews Arena and muster a tie, you would have been sorely disappointed. Northeastern started the season on an extended winless streak and looked awful.
Things have changed. Since then, the Huskies have gone 6-1-2, including last nights game, with wins against ranked Yale, Providence, and Minnesota teams.
Last night, Northeastern largely held BC in check for much of the game. The Huskies held a lead for more than half of the game, but a late flurry from the Eagles earned Boston College a hard-fought 1-1 tie.
The first ten minutes were all Northeastern. Thatcher Demko put up one of his most impressive stretches of hockey in his young career, making several top-notch saves to keep the score tied. As the period wore on, BC started to find its legs and by the time the first was over, the teams were playing pretty even hockey.
It was a penalty that did BC in on the first Northeastern goal.
Northeastern Goal #1 (PPG): 5:00 of the 2nd period
Mike Szmatula (Colton Saucerman, Kevin Roy)
NU 1, BC 0
At the tail end of a questionable penalty to Teddy Doherty, Northeastern would get on the board first.
After all of Demko's ridiculous saves, there was nothing he could do about his. Colton Saucerman takes the initial show from the blue line but it's kind of a changeup. Sanford, the BC defender in front of the shot, might have gotten a piece of it as well.
Szmatula finds it and gets his stick on it, and rather than deflecting in a straight shot, it pops up and barely over Demko. Demko makes a desperation flail at the puck, which might have even initially kept it out, but Szmatula finds his own rebound and puts the puck in past a helpless Demko.
The rest of the second period was a lot of uninspired possession for BC. Northeastern has to be given some credit, though—BC's struggles were primarily focused on breaking into the offensive zone. The Huskies did extremely well standing up at the blue line. BC players were routinely skating right into Husky defenders trying to break in or making poor short passes that led to nothing.
The third period was a bit of a change in philosophy. The Eagles employed more of a dump-and-chase, and combined with the desperation to come from behind, it turned into easily the best period of the night. A flurry of chances of the course of the final ten minutes looked like it would be for nothing, until Gilmour potted the equalizer.
Boston College Goal #1: 17:45 of the 3rd period
Adam Gilmour (Alex Tuch, Zach Sanford)
BC 1, NU 1 -- FINAL
Hanifin gets the play started on his initial shot-pass that's blocked by Northeastern. Sanford was the first one to the bounce off the board and he actually gets off a quality chance. Northeastern picks up the next rebound but he gets disrupted by the cluster of players behind the net.
Tuch finds it and throws the puck on net from an off-angle, and the last rebound comes into the slot where Gilmour finally, at long last, beats Clay Witt with BC's first and only goal of the game, with only 2:15 to go in the game.
Overtime featured very few chances for either side, and the game would end at 1-1.
Thatcher Demko was an absolute monster all game. Brad Barone did a more-than-serviceable job last week in getting the two wins, but having Demko back in net, you can clearly see Demko's NHL pedigree.
Lastly, a shoutout to Zach Sanford, who was BC's best skater all night, and showed several flashes of high-level stickhandling that would have made Johnny Gaudreau proud. Mark my words, the freshman could develop into being BC's best player as an upperclassman.
BC heads down Beacon Street this afternoon for the 2nd leg of the home-and-home at Conte Forum. Game time is 4pm on NESN.