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BOSTON, Mass. - Northeastern got goals from six different skaters and 45 saves from goalie Brad Thiessen to beat Boston College 6-1 in the first round of the 57th annual Beanpot. The Huskies advance to their first Beanpot final since 2005 with their second victory over Boston College this season.
OTHER LINKS: Video highlights and features from the Beanpot (Courtesy of NESN.com) - Greg Cronin Audio (mp3) - Jerry York Audio (mp3)- Chris Donovan, Ryan Ginand, Brad Thiessen Audio (mp3)
BC controlled the early action, firing off a handful of shots, but none of them found the cage. One effort was redirected through traffic in front of the net, and almost caught Northeastern goalie Brad Thiessen out of position, but it bounced wide.
NU saw the first power-play opportunity at 2:20 in the first. A second BC penalty at 3:16 gave Northeastern a five-on-three for 1:04, and the Huskies converted right off the faceoff. Joe Vitale drew the puck back to Mike Hewkin, who fed it to Ryan Ginand down low on the right side of the net. Ginand made a move and beat BC goalie John Muse with a wrist shot to the short side, over Muse's left shoulder. Ginand is the Huskies career Beanpot scoring leader among active players, and the goal increased his career total to seven points in five career Beannpot games. The goal was also Ginand's ninth point in four games, a span over which he has tallied seven goals and two assists.
A delayed penalty call on Mike Hewkin at 8:06 allowed BC goalie John Muse to get to the bench and send on an extra attacker. Boston College's Kyle Kucharski found Matt Price open at the top of the zone. Huskies goalie Brad Thiessen got a piece of Price's slap shot, but could not stop it entirely, and the puck trickled in to even the score at one.
A minute later, a pass from the BC blue line sprung Boston College standout Brock Bradford behind the Northeastern defense. He skated in unchallenged, but Thiessen was there to make the save and keep the score tied.
Northeastern took back the lead at 11:06 in the first, when Chris Donovan fired a quick shot from just outside the crease. Muse was there to make the save, but Greg Costa followed the play, and stuffed in Donovan's rebound for his fifth goal of the season. Rob Rassey earned the second assist on Costa's goal, giving Rassey six points in Northeastern's last seven games, one of the most productive stretches of his career.
Steve Silva was whistled for boarding at 12:09 and the ensuing Boston College power play almost saw the Eagles find the equalizer. A pass from the right point found Bradford open down low on the left post, but before he could redirect the puck into the open net, Thiessen slid across the crease, making a sprawling save with his right pad. On the same penalty kill, Chris Donovan brought the puck in on a shorthanded breakaway but his shot sailed high.
In the closing minutes of the period, a misplayed puck behind Northeastern's goal sent the puck trickling out into the slot. Boston College's Cam Atkinson skated onto it and rocketed a slap shot at Thiessen, but the Huskies' netminder was in position, and made two quick saves to end the threat.
Both teams saw a few good-looking chances in the period's final minutes, but despite the end-to-end action in the second half of the frame, the two teams went into the locker room with the score still 2-1.
A tripping call on Boston College's Barry Almeida at 10:08 in the second period gave Northeastern another chance on the power play. Muse stumbled while trying to play a puck behind the net, and Steve Silva hustled down and dug out the puck, getting it to Steve Quailer, who sent it back to the top of the zone, where Louis Liotti sent a slap shot past Muse, who was still struggling to get back into position.
Dennis McCauley broke the game open for Northeastern 42 seconds later, when he took a feed from Donovan just inside the blue line and sent a long range blast past Muse low on the glove side, giving Northeastern a 4-1 lead.
Northeastern got a fifth goal with 1:41 left in the period off of some hard work from Chris Donovan. Muse went to play a puck behind the net, and Donovan skated in from behind, delivering a stick check and knocking the puck back into the slot, where Steve Qualier buried the puck into the open goal.
In the closing seconds of the period, Thiessen saved a Bradford breakaway, but Bradford's momentum carried him into Thiessen and dislodged the net. In the ensuing scuffle, Denis Chisholm was assessed a game disqualification, forcing him to sit out Northeastern's Feb. 6 matchup with Merrimack.
The two teams went into the locker room with Boston College outshooting the Huskies 21-10 in the period and 29-19 for the game, but thanks to 21 second-period saves from Thiessen, Northeastern held on to the more important lead on the scoreboard.
Both teams had opportunities in the third period, but solid defense from both sides limited shooting opportunities, and both goaltenders were sharp.
Chris Donovan became the sixth different player to score for Northeastern when he potted the rebound off of an Alex Tuckerman shot with 7:56 left in the game. The goal was also Donovan's fourth point of the night, a career high for the junior forward.
Thiessen finished with 45 saves, surpassing his 43-save performance Nov. 1 against New Hampshire, and matching his career high. Thiessen has recorded 30 or more saves in 14 games this season, and 40 or more saves twice.
Northeastern's penalty kill turned in a perfect seven-for-seven performance on the night.
The Huskies host Merrimack Fri., Feb. 6 before taking on Boston University in the Beanpot Championship game Mon., Feb. 9 at 8 p.m.