Fourth-ranked Boston University had one objective heading into last night’s game against Northeastern - keep alive its hopes for a share of the Hockey East regular-season crown.
The Huskies, on the other hand, just wanted to stay alive, period, in the hunt for a postseason berth.
The Terriers (21-11-1, 17-8-1) got the job done with a 5-2 victory in front of 5,154 at Agganis Arena. Unfortunately for NU, it’s wait until next year. The Huskies (12-16-5, 8-14-4) were knocked out of playoff contention with their loss and UMass’s victory over Merrimack.
With Boston College’s win over Vermont, the league crown comes down to tonight. If the Eagles beat Vermont again, they will win the title. If BC loses and BU beats NU, the teams will share the title and BU will be the No. 1 seed in the tournament on the strength of the first tiebreaker, which is head-to-head meetings.
As happy as he was with the win and with a show of force from the many former BU players who appeared to support the program, Parker wasn’t happy with the way his team practiced all week and wasn’t pleased with the way it played.
“The puck jumped into the net for us tonight,’’ said Parker. “I was really disappointed in how the game unfolded. We got back going goal-wise but even in the second period, we got the goals but we didn’t play well. I just asked the guys in the dressing room, ‘Who do you want to be? What type of team do you want to be?’ We’re not going anywhere playing the way we did tonight. We got two points, that was a good thing.’’
Northeastern started well, taking the lead just 38 seconds into the action.
Junior center Garrett Vermeersch teed up a slapper from the right circle that blew by senior goaltender Kieran Millan (25 saves).
It was Vermeersch’s ninth tally of the season.
Although BU had the edge in shots, 12-7, the Huskies took a one-goal lead into the first intermission.
But the Terriers turned the tables on their league rival in the middle period, generating four goals to take a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Sophomore left wing Matt Nieto started the rally during a power play at 5:30 when he took a pass from junior right wing Alex Chiasson, who was positioned below the left circle.
Nieto wristed the puck at the net and it glanced off junior goaltender Chris Rawlings (16 saves) for his 13th of the year.
Just 19 seconds later, BU took advantage of an NU turnover and it was junior left wing Wade Megan who cashed in. He raced into the left circle and fired a shot past Rawlings at 5:49 for his 18th of the year.
BU kept up the pressure, scoring its third goal during a shorthanded situation at 8:32.
Sophomore defenseman Garrett Noonan worked a give and go with Megan. Noonan dished the puck to Megan in the high slot and Megan immediately gave it back to Noonan in the left circle. He sailed a shot past Rawlings for the two-goal lead.
Northeastern coach Jim Madigan called a timeout to help his team regroup but it didn’t help.
At 17:16, junior center Ryan Santana made it a three-goal bulge when he redirected the puck past Rawlings for his second score of the season.
Madigan replaced Rawlings with sophomore Clay Witt (six saves) to start the third.
The Huskies pulled to within a pair when they scored during a two-man advantage at 7:22. Freshman left wing Ludwig Karlsson beat Millan on a shot from the slot, making it 4-2.
Captain Chris Connolly sealed the victory with an empty-net goal at 15:42.
Madigan was extremely disappointed that NU was not going to get a chance to keep playing.
“You play the 27 league games to get into the playoffs and get into the tournament,’’ he said. “You’ve got to get to the tournament to get a chance to win it. You want to get that chance every year. You play the regular season to get to the playoffs and we didn’t do it.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.