First things first.
Boston University freshman Kieran Millan notched his first collegiate shutout, and Andrew Glass scored his first NCAA goal, as the No. 1 Terriers topped the first-place Northeastern Huskies, 3-0, in front of 5,496 at Agganis Arena.
Nick Bonino and Chris Higgins also scored for the Terriers, while Husky goalie Brad Thiessen made 24 saves in a losing effort.
“It was a pretty good hockey game,” Terrier coach Jack Parker said. “After the first little feeling out, from the second half of the first period it was a great game to watch up and down the ice. They’re a strong team in every area: They’ve got great goaltending; they kill penalties well. They forecheck well, and they’re physical. It’s a tough matchup for us, and I thought we played well tonight.”
“We just got outplayed,” said Husky coach Greg Cronin. “I don’t ever want to trade punches with a team like BU in terms of odd-man rushes, and that’s what the first period was. I never thought we really got into a rhythm, and that has a lot to do with what BU did.
“They were very solid defensively; they kept us out on the perimeter on our cycles. I thought that they had structure to their D zone; they wouldn’t let us penetrate, and when we turned the puck over they did what they do best — they transitioned up the ice.”
With the exception of a near goalie by Jason Lawrence on a delayed penalty at 4:25 , the opening minutes were unexciting. Then it turned into a bit of a track meet around the 11-minute mark. BU’s third line of Chris Connolly, Zach Cohen, and Vinny Saponari looked great with about three chances on one shift. Then NU countered with a shorthanded two-on-one. Tyler McNeely set up Joe Vitale, but Millan came up with the save.
BU’s fourth line foreshadowed a goal later in the game when Joe Pereira set up Luke Popko for a great chance ate 16:45 . Northeastern had to be happy with a scoreless period after get outshot and out-chanced.
The first several minutes of the second frame were breathtaking. BU forward Zach Cohen had a chance from the crease at 2:22 , and then NU junior Chris Donavan stole the puck, raced in, and hit the post at 4:15 .
Seconds later, BU counterpunched and scored on an odd play. Bonino skated in on the left wing and attempted a pass to Matt Gilroy. The puck caromed off of Gilroy ‘s skates and ended up back on Bonino’s stick for the shot and goal.
Less than two minutes later, it was 2-0 thanks to BU’s fourth line. Pereira raced in on the left wing for a shot, and Glass buried the rebound.
“The irony was that the best chances they had they didn’t score on,” Cronin said. “The two goals they got in the second period were pucks that got deflected and were kicked around. Guys didn’t know where they were, and they got their sticks on them.”
“We were clicking on some pretty plays, but I don’t want us to be relying on that,” Parker said. “I’m happy that the goals were scored like that. If you rely on pretty plays, the goalie anticipates that a little more than something that just bounces out at him.”
Northeastern almost got the goal back 20 seconds later. Freshman Steve Quailer’s shot got through Millan and almost bled across the goal line. Then Brandon Yip took the puck the other way for another great chance on the immediate transition. Next McNeely set up Randy Guzior for a strong bid, but Millan stopped that one as well.
The pace slowed down in the third period, but the outcome was in doubt until BU added their third goal at 14:16 . After being held pointless all night, BU’s top line finally found a spot on the scoresheet. Colin Wilson brought the puck in on the left wing and set up Chris Higgins, who shifted the puck onto his backhand before beating Thiessen high on the stick side.
“Obviously it was nice to see Kieran Millan get his first shutout,” Parker said. “He played very, very well. He made some big saves, especially early in the first. In the second, we’d get a three-on-two or four-on-two but then our guys got a little too rambunctious on offense and left our goaltender out to dry a little bit, but he made a couple of huge saves.”
For BU co-captain Matt Gilroy, it was satisfying to see the team bounce back after their most lopsided loss of the season, a 5-1 defeat at the hands of UMass on Friday night.
“We regrouped for this game, and we wanted to come out with the attitude that we were going to bring it every time we went out on the ice, and we were going to win every shift out there,” Gilroy said. “Guys start believing that, and it starts happening, and we’re rolling from there.
BU has now won 11 regular-season games in a row at home. The Terriers (7-2-0, 4-2-0 Hockey East) hosts Vermont for a pair of games next weekend, while Northeastern (7-2-2, 5-2-1) hosts UNH on Friday before playing at UMass-Lowell on Saturday.