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It was like deja vu all over again.
One night after Boston University dominated the first period to grab a 2-0 lead that Northeastern never recovered from, the two teams followed a similar script to a 7-2 BU win. The back end of the home-and-home series, played at Walter Brown Arena, completed a sweep of the series for the Terriers who now own a 130-47-2 all-time record in the matchup.
The win also vaults Boston University (13-6-2, 7-4-0 HEA) past inactive Boston College and Maine into second place in the Hockey East, although the two rivals hold one and three games in hand, respectively.
“It was a dominating performance by us as far as territory and speed,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “I was real impressed in the way that we came out to start the game and then finished it. Sometimes when you get up by a couple of goals you start hanging around, trying to pick off a pass and not playing defense first, but I thought we were pretty thorough throughout the game. It was a great effort by a lot of guys out there.”
On Saturday, the Terriers rode the 2-0 first-period lead to a 4-0 final score, but play in the latter two periods were relatively even. This time, however, they continued the pressure for the full 60 minutes. In doing so, they extended their winning streak to six games.
“We were better than we were last night about controlling center ice,” said Parker. “We stopped them in center ice and we made some great passes and really looked pretty sharp going through center ice. That’s why we got so many advantages on the rush and on the forecheck because we were really blowing through center ice.”
Northeastern (6-10-2, 1-8-1 HEA) now is in danger of falling into the league cellar. The Huskies lead Massachusetts-Lowell by three points, but the River Hawks hold three games in hand. The teams will face each other in two weeks. Prior to that, NU travels to second-ranked Maine.
“We got beat by a better team tonight,” said NU coach Bruce Crowder. “You obviously don’t want to go through six periods of hockey and only score two goals and give up what we did. We’re into the second half of the season and we haven’t improved ourselves a lot, but on the other hand we’re young. We had 13 freshmen and sophomores in the lineup tonight. That inexperience shows up when the going gets tough.
“We have to get better, but the biggest thing is that I’m happy with our players. We have to play better, but I’m very positive with our kids and we’re going to get better in February than we are right now. We have to have some patience.”
The Terriers needed no patience in getting on the scoreboard in the first period, taking the lead at 2:32. Ryan Priem put in the rebound after Matt Radoslovich outmuscled a Husky defender along the right goal line, cut in and put the shot on net.
BU upped the lead to 2-0 on a Jekabs Redlihs power-play goal at 18:44. Redlihs shot from the point through a screen provided by Kenny Magowan and it redirected past Keni Gibson.
The period ended with the Terriers outattempting the Huskies, 25-10, and outshooting them, 14-4. At one point the shot disparity stood at 12-1.
The one-sided play continued in the second period. BU added another power-play goal at 7:11 with John Sabo turning and firing in the slot through a Brian Collins screen. The lead went to 4-0 less than seven minutes later when Gibson failed to control the rebound of a Mike Bussoli shot from the point and Frantisek Skladany backhanded the rebound in.
Northeastern briefly stemmed the tide with a Mike Ryan power-play goal from the slot, but the Terriers resumed their domination in the third period. At 2:04, a Dan Spang shot from the point broke in off Gibson’s glove for a soft goal. The lead then went to 6-1 on a perfect feed from Collins to Sabo, who was left all alone. Trevor Reschny countered at 12:39 before BU’s Mike Bussoli capped the scoring at 7-2 six minutes later.
Gibson was tossed from the game at 16:16 of the third period as a result of a skirmish with Brad Zancanaro. The penalty was only a five-minute slashing major so he is eligible to play next weekend. Crowder noted, however, that “he might have a DQ,” indicating that the coach may voluntarily sit the sophomore for the infraction.
The Terriers are off next weekend, but host Providence on Thursday. Ryan Whitney and Brian McConnell will return after having played in the World Junior Championships.