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Defense Sparks BU win over Northeastern

BU defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and Doyle Somerby scored goals while Connor LaCouvee made 33 saves in Saturday night's 4-1 win at Northeastern's Matthews Arena.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON -- Just as quickly as Friday night's Northeastern-Boston University series opener turned into an offensive shootout, it was evident Saturday's rematch would belong to the defensemen and goaltenders.

BU sophomore Connor LaCouvee and Northeastern freshman Ryan Ruck combined for 63 saves, but the Terriers used a goal each in the first and second periods and two empty-netters in the third to surge to a four-point Hockey East weekend with a 4-1 win at Matthews Arena.

"I'm just really proud of our guys," BU head coach David Quinn said. "Any time you can sweep somebody in our league, it's a heck of an accomplishment. ... That's a good team we just played. They play hard and really make you defend."

Despite holding a dominant 18-2 shots on goal advantage, the Terriers held just a 1-0 lead after the first period of play on senior captain Matt Grzelcyk's second goal in as many nights.

At 5:16, the Boston Bruins prospect took a feed from classmate Danny O'Regan and drove down the wing for a shot that popped blocker side high over Ruck.

"I thought we came to play tonight," Quinn said of the team's hot start to the contest. "Obviously, I thought our first period was our best period that we've played this year. Since I've been here, I don't know if we've played a better period from start to finish."

Ruck made several key stops throughout the first period to keep the home team within a goal, including a golden breakaway chance on BU freshman Bobo Carpenter just after the midway point.

LaCouvee, who needed to make 19 saves in the third period of Friday's 5-4 win, was not called on for much work at all as the Huskies posted just three total shot attempts.

"I'm just trying to stay in it, bopping to the music," LaCouvee said. "They were playing some pretty good tracks, so I was just kind of stayed in it talking to the guys. It doesn't seem like that, but sometimes those are the toughest games."

On the Northeastern side of things, a lack of consistent even strength time was not a recipe for success.

The Huskies were penalized three times in the frame and could not put a shot on goal on LaCouvee until the 16:30 mark. At that point, BU had peppered Ruck with 14 consecutive shots on goal.

"We got ourselves down two penalties in a row, which we deserved, and we’re killing off penalties for the first six minutes, and allowed obviously BU to gain a lot of momentum," NU head coach Jim Madigan said. "They've got a very good power play and a lot of skill up there."

But it wasn't just the Terriers' skilled forwards who joined the attack over the course of the impressive weekend sweep. A night after three different BU defensemen scored goals, Grzelcyk opened the scoring for a second straight game before another blue liner found the scoresheet for the first time this season four BU.

Junior Doyle Somerby jumped into the play to double BU's lead 13:54 into the second. The Marblehead, Mass., native rushed down the right wing on a 2-on-1 play, shooting a puck that deflected off Ruck and into the back of the net.

"That came off of great defense," Quinn said. "Him and Johnny MacLeod did a great job down in the corner and Mike Moran as well. Our defense was really good in that sequence and it allowed us to get a 2-on-1 and he buries it."

The BU defense certainly came into the season as one of the most impressive looking groups on paper, and their offensive production has been an incredible asset to the Terriers as they improved to 5-4-0 on the season and earned their third league win.

"It was no secret coming into this year that our D corps would be the strength of our team," Grzelcyk said. "It's nice that we can contribute offensively when we can."

The Huskies posted 13 shots in the second and 19 more in the third, pulling even at 34-34 for the contest.

Each of BU's third-period goals sailed into empty nets as senior Ahti Oksanen picked up a bouncing puck at center ice at 18:44 before O'Regan cut down the left wing for his second goal of the year at 19:40.

The hosts broke up LaCouvee's shutout bid in between the empty-net scores as freshman Adam Gaudette scored a goal for the third straight game with 55.4 seconds remaining in regulation.

BU transfer Sam Kurker cut ahead of his former team's defense, but Gaudette was there at the crease to slide a rebound into an open side of the net.

It was a tale of two different games for the Huskies as Ruck stood tall a night after the offense burst in a losing cause.

In order for Madigan's club to see improvement from its current 1-7-1 record and break its present eight-game winless streak, the Huskies will have to find a way to put forth a more consistent game from puck drop to buzzer.

"We had goaltending today but we couldn’t score," Madigan said. "Yesterday, we didn't defend well in front of our net but we could score. We need all components to our game working for us to win a hockey game."