Boston, Mass. — The game couldn’t have been heading in a worse direction for Jerry York’s Eagles.
Instead of carrying over momentum from a late goal in the second period that gave Boston College a 1-0 lead, the Eagles took two penalties in the first 5:08 of the third period, one of which resulted in a Northeastern goal to even the score.
A third penalty in the final period with only 1:27 remaining in regulation could have doomed the Eagles. Enter sophomore defenseman Michael Kim, who played the role of hero.
Playing for the first time at Matthews Arena, the Toronto, Ontario native stepped up at his own blue line and delivered a crushing blow to Northeastern sniper Adam Gaudette. That sent the puck out to the neutral zone, but a Huskies defender turned it right over to Kim.
Kim took the puck and raced up the left side and unleashed a wrist shot that hit the pipe and dropped in to send the Eagles bench into jubilation with just 22.9 seconds to play.
“Coach is always telling us to step up at the blue line on the PK. I saw their guy with his head down and I tried to take the puck away from him. They made a pretty bad dump down the ice that landed right on my stick. I saw their guys were flat-footed. I took off and I just shot it,” Kim explained.
“He can really shoot a puck really well. He just caught a perfect shot in that top left hand corner,” York added.
While his first goal of the season is what will draw the headlines, Kim also played very well in his own end. It’s a part of his game that he worked on a lot over the summer, knowing there would be an opportunity for increased ice time due to Steve Santini and Ian McCoshen’s departure to the pro ranks.
“It was a step I was ready to take. I knew going into the summer we had some big guys that someone would be able to fill their shoes as best they could. I just tried to work hard this summer,” said Kim who has 10 assists on the season.
Kim’s mobility and good stick were building blocks for a player to be able to defend with his feet, and he’s tried to learn as much as he could from associate head coach Greg Brown.
“Just having such a good defensive coach back there in Coach Brown who knows everything about the game and everything about positioning,” began Kim. “Ever since I got here I’ve learned so much from him. He’s always there for me, doing film after every game. I owe a lot to him.”
Kim’s ability to transition his game is another reason for his success.
“I’m willing to take on that role of shutting down their better players rather than create offense. It’s an adjustment I’ve been willing to make. I’ve been happy with it so far,” said Kim.
Kim’s goal was the second BC tally of the night with less than a minute to play in the period. Colin White staked the Eagles to a 1-0 lead with 33 seconds to go in the middle frame. The Ottawa Senators prospect gave a nice lead pass to right wing J.D. Dudek at the attacking blue line. White drove the far post to tip home the centering feed to finish off the give-and-go.
Zach Aston-Reese scored his 11th goal of the season at the 1:56 mark of the third period. He re-directed Garrett Cockerill’s point shot on the power play.
Northeastern’s top line drew all three power plays in the final period. Matt Filipe, recently added to the trio with John Stevens and Aston-Reese, caused the first two BC penalties in the third.
“We kept our feet moving in that second and third period in the offensive zone. We worked off the puck and got to the net. That’s how we drew a couple penalties,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan.
Boston College goaltender Joe Woll didn’t face much rubber in the first period, but made 19 saves over the final two periods to improve to 9-4-1 on his rookie season.
“Joe made some exceptional saves,” said York. “Both goalies were good tonight.”
It was arguably the best game of the season for Northeastern goaltender Ryan Ruck. While he still looked a little uncomfortable in the crease and flopped around, he made 27 saves, including all 14 in the opening frame.
“He played with confidence. He was more sure of himself. He was out and he challenged. He made some good saves,” Madigan said, adding that he gave the sophomore some words of encouragement after the game.
Boston College heads to Madison Square Garden for a marquee showdown against North Dakota on Saturday night before Tuesday’s rematch with the Huskies at Conte Forum.