Vinny Saponari nets game-winning goal for Terriers

Vinny Saponari scored the game-winner for the Terriers

BOSTON, Mass. - Sophomore Vinny Saponari scored to break a 4-4 tie midway through the third period and the goal held up, lifting the Boston University men's ice hockey team to a 5-4 victory over Northeastern in the Terriers' final home game of the regular season on Friday evening at Agganis Arena. BU now stands at an even 15-15-3 overall with a 12-12-2 Hockey East mark and can still finish anywhere between third and eighth in the league standings with one game left - Saturday's rubber match with the Huskies at Matthews Arena.

Sophomore Chris Connolly and freshman Wade Megan each recorded a goal and an assist for the Terriers, while Northeastern (16-15-2, 11-13-2 HE) was paced by a two-goal effort from freshman Jake Newton.

BU never trailed in the contest, holding leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 4-2 only to watch the visitors come back on each occasion. The Huskies scored two goals 29 seconds apart with just under seven minutes to play in the second to force the 4-4 deadlock.

The Terriers outshot the Huskies, 33-25, as sophomore Kieran Millan turned in a 21-save performance to earn the win in goal. Freshman Chris Rawlings recorded 28 saves on the night for NU.

Megan opened the scoring just 3:46 into the contest when a deflected puck made its way to him in front of the crease. Connolly and junior Colby Cohen assisted on the tally - Megan's fourth of the year.

Newton tied up the game at 7:36 with his first tally of the night off a faceoff win by sophomore Mike McLaughlin, but BU quickly regained the lead 79 seconds later when senior Zach Cohen poked in a puck that was stuck between Rawlings and the foot of the right post.

The Huskies evened things up once again when freshman Justin Daniels scored in transition up the left side and beat Millan at 16:06 after junior Tyler McNeely set him up by chipping the puck up the left boards near the NU blueline.

BU, however, was again eager to break the tie, as freshman Alex Chiasson threw the puck towards the net from the right side before it went off Megan at the far post and trickled out to the bottom of the slot, where Connolly pushed it in with 2:42 to play in the opening period.

Sophomore David Warsofsky gave the Terriers their first and only two-goal lead of the night when he drilled a one-timer from the right point just 1:20 into the second period. Chaisson set up the goal with his second assist of the night.

Soon after, BU had a fantastic chance to build even more on its lead when NU committed penalties just 43 seconds apart, but the ensuing 5-on-3 did not produce a goal, and Northeastern took some momentum from its penalty kills.

In the blink of an eye, the Huskies tied it up with tallies at 13:11 and 13:40 of the middle stanza.

McLaughlin converted from the foot of the right circle with assists going to freshman Garrett Vermeersch and senior Jim Driscoll before Newton recorded his second goal off a give-and-go play with senior Chris Donovan.

The game-winner came from the middle of the left circle, as that's where senior Kevin Shattenkirk found Saponari with a pass through the slot, and the sophomore registered his ninth tally of the season.

The Terriers only put three shots on goal in the final period, but only gave up six on the other end and held off the Huskies to tie the season series. NU posted a 1-0 victory over BU at Matthews Arena back on Nov. 6.

The two teams will wrap up their series in the regular-season finale on Saturday (March 6) at Matthews Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.