BOSTON — After a thrilling double-overtime game preceding the second semifinal matchup between Boston University and Northeastern, it seemed almost impossible that the game between the Terriers and the Huskies would be able to match the dramatics.
Codie Cross and the Huskies, however, had a couple tricks up their sleeves.
After first team Hockey East all-star Victoria Hanson had the Huskies shutout through most the of the game, two Northeastern goals scored within three minutes of each other powered a resurgent Huskies team past BU, stunning the Terriers on their home ice. The Huskies went on to win the game 2-1 to clinch a spot in the Hockey East championship game.
“Everybody got their money’s worth with the two Hockey East semifinal games today to say the least,” BU coach Brian Durocher said.
For much of the first period, the focus was on the goaltenders. Hanson and NU goaltender Brittany Bugalski combined for 23 saves in the first period, without letting any in for a goal.
In fact, it was halfway through the second period before the deadlock was broken. Following a shot from above the circles, Bugalski made a save, but was unable to control the rebound. After some chaos in front of the net, Victoria Bach was able to puck the puck past Bugalski, giving the Terriers the 1-0 lead.
From there, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that, despite the tenuous 1-0 lead, the Terriers were going to emerge from Saturday’s game the victors, with Hanson turning in 30 saves in two periods, with nothing significant really materializing.
“After the second period, we had 30 shots, no goals, they’re up 1-0, and you start wondering if the puck isn’t going to go into the net,” Northeastern coach Dave Flint said. “I don’t know what coach Durocher feeds his goalies before the playoffs, but they always seem to play really well.”
Yet in the third period, the Huskies were able to break through.
“I felt like, in the first period, we were getting a lot of pucks to the net, but we weren’t getting a lot of traffic in front of her, we were real perimeter,” Flint said. “And if you’re going to beat [Hanson] it’s going to be on a rebound, or a scrum in front. I just stressed getting pucks to the net, getting in her face so she can’t see pucks, and being strong on our sticks down low, and just grinding it out and banging something in.”
That was how the Huskies scored their first goal. After the Huskies generated some traffic in front, Halle Silva knuckled a puck just over Hanson and into the net. Following a quick review, the equalizer held up, and the Huskies had tied the game.
However, Northeastern’s flair for the dramatic hadn’t run out just yet.
Following an Alexis Crossley interference penalty, the Huskies had one more chance to beat Hanson before a sudden-death overtime. Ultimately, Cross was able to trickle a puck past Hanson to give the Huskies the lead.
“One of our key points was to get the puck to the net, and to crash the net hard, which our forwards did an incredible job of screening the goalie,” Cross said. “The puck kind of found a hole and went in.”
The Cross goal gave the Huskies a stunning 2-1 lead, which they did not relinquish, clinching a spot in the Hockey East final, breaking a string of matchups between Boston College and BU dating back to the 2014 season.
The Huskies have taken on their opponents in the Hockey East final four times, earning a 1-2-1 record against the Eagles. However, the last time the two teams met, the Huskies beat the Eagles in Chestnut Hill.