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BOSTON, Mass. - In front of a flawless victory by rookie goaltender Chris Rawlings, the Northeastern hockey team grinded out its first Hockey East victory of the season against its arch-rival, #7/5 Boston University, with a 1-0 victory in front of the second-consecutive sellout crowd of 4,666 strong at Matthews Arena on Friday night.
Rawlings becomes the Huskies' second-ever netminder to shut out Boston University as Northeastern recorded its first shutout since blanking UMass Lowell on Feb. 27, 2009. Northeastern can stake its claim to ending BU's five-year run of not being shutout on the road. Friday night's triumph marks NUís first win over its Commonwealth Ave. foe since Feb. 28, 2007.
The last time Boston University was denied through 60 minutes was on March 15, 2004.
Brad Thiessen was the last NU goalie to make 43 when he turned the trick against New Hampshire on Nov. 1, 2008.
Junior forward Wade MacLeod extended the Huskies' powerplay scoring streak to six games as the Coquitlam, B.C. native netted his fifth-career game-winner at 12:37 of the final stanza. Junior Mike Hewkin tallied his first point of the year on the play while newcomer Jake Newton leads all defensemen with four points. The San Jacinto, Calif. Native assembled his first-career pointstreak with the helper.
Rawlings acted as Northeastern's linchpin in the victory, turning aside all 43 shots the Terriers tried. The Huskies were outshot, 43-20, giving up the most attempts on the season. The Terriers were enabled with numerous opportunities on net thanks to a season-high10 penalties for 31 minutes on the Huskies' behalf.
"Obviously a lot of the credit has to go to Chris Rawlings," head coach Greg Cronin said. "We were lucky to come away with two points, because both teams had a lot of injuries, but it was a big win for our team."
Cronin celebrated his 60th-career win as the Northeastern skipper on Friday night.
The first five minutes of the game was directed by the Terriers' offense. A senior Chris Donovan penalty at 1:57 for contact to the head gave BU an early opportunity to take the deafening crowd out early, but Rawlings offered a glimpse of what was in store for the next 58 minutes.
"I've never experienced anything like this in my life," Rawlings said. "I can't give enough credit to the team for playing great in front of me. The penalty-killing unit was great all night. I couldn't have picked a better game to earn my first-career shutout in."
The Terriers killed off a 68-second 5-on-3 situation in favor Northeastern around the seven-minute mark of the opening period, but a few minutes later, the Huskies almost broke through on an odd play. Freshman Robbie Vrolyk managed to bat down an attempted clear by the Terriers, yielded a spectacular opportunity for junior captain Tyler McNeely. McNeely beat BU netminder Kieran Millan, but his wrister was met by the crossbar at the 11-minute mark of the initial session.
Boston University outshot the Huskies, 19-6, in the second period, but one Terriers' try stood out in particular. BU's Andrew Glass received a generous carom from the near boards for a point-blank standoff with Rawlings. Glass paused, gained his balance and tried to sneak a backhand attempt past the North Delta, British Columbia native, but the 6'5 backstopper kicked it away to keep the score even.
Alex Chiasson's interference call at 11:37 turned out to be a costly penalty. The Terriers did a good job of killing off the first minute, but Northeastern battled back into BU's zone. Newton delivered a one-time pass to Hewkin who blasted Millan in the chest, but MacLeod's presence in the crease was enough to earn the tip-in goal at 12:37 of the final stanza.
Northeastern was not out of the clear after Hewkin hit the showers after being charged with a 10-minute game misconduct for hitting from behind at 15:51. The Terriers had the man-up for the remainder of the game, but had only one clear shot at tying it up. With a minute and a half left, a scrum in front of the net gave way to a loose puck inches from the goal line, but no one could get a stick on it for the equalizer.
The first time Northeastern knocked off a defending champion was actually against Boston University on Jan 10, 1979, when NU toppled the Terriers, 6-4. NU earned its 12th victory in program history over a defending champion on Friday night.
Northeastern will stay within close quarters when the Huskies make their way across town for a game at 2008 national champions Boston College on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. Boston University will take a travel day tomorrow to head to Orono for a game at Maine on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 4 p.m.