By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff
After a season of struggles for the Boston University men’s ice hockey team, it seems fitting that an unlikely third seed in the Hockey East tournament would be secured by an unlikely player.
Who was that unlikely star? None other than sophomore forward Kevin Gilroy, a player who had not seen much ice time all season. Yet it was still Gilroy who, late in the third period, found a puck after a faceoff and sent it past freshman netminder Chris Rawlings (38 saves) for his first goal of the season to give the Terriers a 4-3 win.
The Terriers (16-15-3, 13-12-2 HE), after securing a playoff spot in Friday night’s game, were playing for a chance at home ice and could have placed anywhere from the third seed to the eighth seed in the Hockey East Tournament after last night’s game. The Terriers also had a chance to knock Northeastern (16-16-2, 11-14-2) out of the playoffs entirely.
“I told the team that the only thing that was at stake tonight was to play a real good game going into the playoffs,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “Maybe we would get a ‘W’ and put Northeastern behind us. I didn’t know we’d put Northeastern out of the playoffs.”
At the beginning of the game, it certainly did not look like the Terriers would put Northeastern out of the playoffs. Northeastern junior Wade MacLeod scored just 1:36 into the game when he circled just past sophomore defenseman David Warsofsky and fired a shot past sophomore goalie Kieran Millan (21 saves).
The Terriers tied the game eight minutes later with a Nick Bonino power-play goal. But Kyle Kraemer put Northeastern ahead again just four minutes after Bonino’s goal with a slapper that sailed right over Millan’s left pad.
The second period belonged to the Terriers. They limited Northeastern to just three shots in the period, and senior forward Zach Cohen tied the game on a laser of a shot from the left circle. It was his 15th goal of the season, moving him one ahead of junior defenseman Colby Cohen for the team lead.
Freshman Alex Chiasson put the Terriers ahead, 3-2, early in the third, but the pesky Kraemer refused to go down without a fight. With freshman forward Ryan Santana in the box for a trip in front of the BU bench, Kraemer took a pass at the top of the right circle and fired it over Millan’s glove to tie the game for the third time.
“If we could have stopped Kraemer, we would have been OK,” Parker said. “That kid is a heck of a player and had a hell of a senior year.”
Northeastern took all of the game’s momentum after tying the game, but Millan stood tall for the Terriers. He robbed freshman forward Justin Daniels of a goal with a flashy glove save and covered puck after puck while Northeastern put the pressure on him.
Then, at 13:32, BU broke the stalemate. Gilroy got the puck from sophomore Ross Gaudet and fired it past Rawlings for the game-winner. The goal was Gilroy’s first of the season, and the assist was Gaudet’s second of the season. Gaudet did not play in a single game last season, while Gilroy saw limited time both this season and last season.
After Gilroy’s goal, it was up to BU’s penalty kill to preserve the win. With almost five minutes left in the game, freshman Sean Escobedo went to the box on a cross-checking call and was joined nine seconds later by Warsofsky. The Terriers dodged a 5-on-3, though, as MacLeod was sent to the box with Warsofsky for embellishment, and Terrier Nation breathed a sigh of relief after the penalties expired with no damage done. They inhaled again when Zach Cohen was sent off for hooking at 17:17.
“It looked like we were self-destructing there, especially when Warsofsky took the slashing penalty,” Parker said. “He took another guy with him, thank God, because then we would have been down five to three and that would have been horrible.”
Yet the Terriers held on, earning a third seed in the Hockey East Tournament as well as home ice for the quarterfinals. They will host sixth-seeded Merrimack College in a best 2-out-of-3 series beginning Friday night.
“Everything fell our way, including us getting four points,” Parker said. “The first thing that had to fall our way was us getting four points, and we did that.”