BOSTON -- As mentioned before, facing a long-standing rival for the first time (or any time, for that matter) is never easy, but the Northeastern Huskies did not let it phase them on Friday at Agganis Arena. Now, with momentum on its side, NU returns to the venerable Matthews Arena for the third time in four 2013 games so far, for its second home date of the season with the second-ranked Boston College Eagles on Saturday night.
The meeting will be a big one as the teams are tied 1-1 in their Hockey East season series, after splitting the first two back in October. BC holds the decisive all-time edge, 156-47-14, including six wins in the last seven games.
BC and UNH are tied atop the conference in scoring offense as they have each scored 3.35 goals per-game and the exact same total of 67. The Huskies still rank eighth, despite bursting for a new season-high in goals on Friday. On the flip side, both teams sit in the bottom half of the league in defense, having allowed close to three goals per-game each.
In NU's 3-1 win on Oct. 13, 2012, rookie Kevin Roy scored his second consecutive game-winner to open the season, but the Eagles found revenge one week later in a 3-0 win on their home ice.
Despite the lofty ranking and 13 wins this year, BC took a 5-2 decision on the chin on Friday against UMass, seeing its impressive home unbeaten streak of 18 games come to an end. The loss was also its first to the Mass Attack at Kelley Rink since Nov. 17, 2007.
After UMass led 2-0 after 20 minutes, the Eagles bounced back on freshman Travis Jeke's first-career point at 18:44 of the second and senior Steven Whitney's equalizer at 4:08 of the third. It was downhill from there as senior Parker Milner (21 saves) allowed the final three goals, including the second of a pair from junior Branden Gracel, to lift the Minutemen.
On Friday, the Minutemen held stellar sophomore Johnny Gaudreau to a single assist - a key part of earning the victory. The Carneys Point, N.J. native still leads Hockey East with 12 goals, despite having not potted one since last Friday's win over New Hampshire.
The Huskies held a 3-2 lead after one period in their first meeting of the season with the Terriers and scored twice more in the second, before allowing three BU strikes in less than seven minutes for a tie score. For the second time in as many meetings, senior captain Vinny Saponari scored a game-winning goal with 2:03 remaining in regulation against his former team to propel NU to a 6-5 win.
With the win, NU improved to 7-10-2 on the season and captured points in Hockey East for the second straight game to open the new year.
It also marked the first time since 1989 that NU had won consecutive games against the Scarlet and White. Tallying a six spot was also NU's most on Terrier ice since Feb. 28, 2004, but a for the team record in Agganis Arena. Leading the way was junior Cody Ferriero as he added a highlight-reel goal in the second period to add to his total of seven goals and nine points in four games, continuing a four-game point streak, which has matched his career-long.
Joshua Kummins covers Hockey East for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.