Northeastern captain Nolan Stevens told his teammates to treat their visit to Boston University as “a business trip” on Saturday night. And the Huskies followed Stevens’s advice, as well as his hat trick, in taking a 4-1 victory, snapping an eight-game winless streak against the Terriers.
No. 15 Northeastern (5-2-1, 3-0-0 Hockey East), which last defeated the Terriers (4-5-1, 2-2-1) on Feb. 27, 2015, also compiled its biggest margin of victory over BU since a 6-3 result on Feb. 28, 2004.
“We’ve had a lot of good efforts in this building, with not the result that we’ve wanted,” Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said. “And, tonight, we had the mindset to come in and play well and get the result, and have believability and conviction that we can come in this building and win.
“We know it will be that much more difficult in our building on Friday than it was here tonight.”
The teams meet again at Matthews Arena on Friday night.
Stevens, who missed most of last season with an upper body injury, has five goals in eight games, a more productive pace than in 2015-16, when he scored 20 goals in 41 games, or last season (10 goals in, 17 games).
“His composition is not just one-dimensional, it’s multi-faceted,” Madigan said of Stevens. “You saw him out there killing penalties, on the power play, 5 on 5 — we use him in all situations. He’s growing as a captain and continues to make great strides.”
Huskies freshman Bobby Hampton opened the scoring with his second goal, one-timing from the slot off a Grant Jozefek feed from behind the net at 11:44. Stevens increased the advantage, going in alone and slipping a shot past Jake Oettinger as the horn sounded, the score getting validated by replay.
“I knew it was kind of running out of time,” Stevens said. “I just wanted to make a play as quick as I could. When I went in, I didn’t think it counted but I just wanted to make a play as fast as I could.”
No. 12 BU, which has lost three of its last four, continued to be hampered by slow starts.
“That sequence of events at the end of the first really just summarizes where we’re at mentally,” BU coach David Quinn said. “You saw that coming, though. That wasn’t what happened at the buzzer. I mean, we were going to get fortunate to get out of there 1-nothing, because of our lack of awareness around our net, how soft we’ve become and, to have a potential 3 on 2 and turn it into a clean breakaway is really just a microcosm of where we’re at right now, or where we were tonight.”
BU upped the tempo at the start of the second period, Jordan Greenway cutting the deficit in half at 2:09. Patrick Harper set up the goal, firing from the right circle, Shane Bowers screening and Greenway finishing at the back post.
Stevens scored his second goal with a one-timer off the rebound of a Zach Solow shot at 9:23. Less than a minute later, the Terriers’ Brady Tkachuk appeared to score, but the goal was invalidated after a video review. Northeastern goalie Ryan Ruck sustained a concussion, according to Madigan, and was replaced by Cayden Primeau after the play.
Stevens converted his third goal on a redirection of a Ryan Shea shot from the left point, the goal confirmed following a video review, at 18:06.
“Our inability to decide when to play defense and when to play offense is really a problem for us,” Quinn said. “Our No. 1 problem was defending, or lack thereof. It was really disappointing. Until we realize how important team defense is and transition defense is we’re going to have a hard time. We just gave them way too much space.”