BOSTON -- Friday night, and Saturday morning, at the TD Garden did not turn out the way most Hockey East fans would have expected.
That is, unless you were in the Northeastern locker room.
The Huskies allowed a goal just 15 seconds into their semifinal clash with top-seeded Boston College, but gutted out yet another victory to keep their incredible run alive.
NU stretched its program-record 13-game unbeaten streak with a 5-4 win over city rival Boston College and will play for a Hockey East title for the first time since it hoisted the Lamoriello Trophy back in 1988.
"We're obviously excited," Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said. "I thought that this was a tremendous hockey game. Our kids played hard. They were resilient and they showed a lot of resolve."
There were four periods of scoreless hockey after two goals were scored in the first semifinal, but the Eagles wasted no time getting on the board in the nightcap.
BC freshman Miles Wood picked a great time to break from his 14-game scoreless drought, rushing up ice and sneaking his ninth goal of the season between the legs of Northeastern goaltender Ryan Ruck just 15 ticks into the game.
Too fast a start? Not for BC head coach Jerry York.
"We would have liked to have scored more goals, but Northeastern prevented us from that," York said. "I will take an early goal any time. They were good, they came right back."
Huskies junior Zach Aston-Reese knotted the score at the 14:08 mark, scoring at the end of a two-man rush with sophomore Nolan Stevens.
Defenseman Garret Cockerill started the play in the NU zone and fed Stevens as they started towards the offensive end of the ice. Stevens fed Aston-Reese for a shot that beat BC goaltender Thatcher Demko from the low slot on the near side.
The real killer for the Eagles, York said, came with less than a second to play in the frame as rookie Adam Gaudette lifted the Huskies to a 2-1 lead. The Braintree, Mass., native received the final pass on a sequence with senior Mike McMurtry and ultimately tapped his 11th goal of the season home on the back door.
"We just stuck to the game plan. ... We knew they'd be riding and grinding, but we stayed disciplined," Stevens said. "We knew that those turnovers would happen and if we stayed with the puck we could capitalize on them."
Gaudette's goal with 0.9 seconds left in the frame was a direct result of a turnover as sophomore Dylan Sikura caused BC's Zach Sanford to lose control of the puck.
The Hockey East Rookie of the Year got into the scoring act, tying the game just 70 seconds into the second frame. Junior Matthew Gaudreau collected the puck right behind Ruck and dished a beautiful backhander right to White in the slot.
The Huskies continued fighting and scored two of the final three goals before the second buzzer sounded.
Stevens scored NU's third goal, and its first of two straight on the power play, at 2:55. He took a pass from junior brother John and made a great toe-drag move into the left circle to beat Demko.
Eric Williams made it a 4-2 game at 10:55, winding up for a heavy shot from the right point. The rookie defenseman used his great vision and beat Demko upstairs, from between the blue line and the right side circle.
"We knew that if we kept our feet moving and were hard on pucks, they would have to haul us down and take some penalties," McMurtry said. "You always want to keep your feet moving and get inside the opponent's head a little bit."
The Eagles were able to get back into the game once again as Wood scored his second of the night one a one-time shot at the 13:54 mark, but NU pushed its lead back to a pair of goals just about halfway through the third.
Freshman Lincoln Griffin scored his sixth goal of the year off yet another BC turnover, intercepting a pass and placing a backhander inside Demko's left post.
Sophomore Alex Tuch brought BC back within one goal at 10:50, tapping home a rebound off Sanford's try from the bottom of the right circle.
"When we made it 5-3, we knew that they were going to get that fourth (goal), but we were just hoping it would be later on," Madigan said. "I liked the way our kids battled back, got those couple of power plays and ran it out there at the end."