October 23, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Mayhem at Matthews

Students, Fans Raucous as BC Knocks Off Northeastern

by Jill Saftel/CHN Reporter

BOSTON — As the clock ran down to the final seconds of the third period, it became clear, Boston College and Northeastern University were headed for overtime. The fans in Northeastern’s "Doghouse" student section started disrobing for "No T OT" and those in the front row pounded on the railings in front of them, berating the BC student section. If Matthews Arena wasn't electric before — it certainly was now.

Putting Matthews over capacity, Eagles and Huskies fans alike showed up to cheer for their respective teams — and against their competitors — in a game that ultimately ended when Bill Arnold potted the winner for BC with one minute left in overtime. The schools are no strangers to each other; with a Beanpot rivalry spanning years and a Hockey East rivalry building, there wasn't a moment of silence Saturday night.

"It's a hostile environment, but it's awesome. They're yelling at everyone, and we love it," said BC senior Barry Almeida of Matthews and the Northeastern fans. "I remember my first game here as a freshman, and you always let the freshman know when they come play here it's going to be hostile."

The Northeastern fans wasted no time trying to get under the skin of BC’s players, starting the game off with the traditional shouting after the announcement of every rival starting player’s name. But tonight was different, Matthews was fuller, the students were louder and the atmosphere was completely energized from start to finish.

"The atmosphere was outstanding here. The student body makes the building electric, just a great setting for Hockey East," said BC head coach Jerry York.

This may have something to do with the BC student section. Eagles fans make the trip from Chestnut Hill to see their team duke it out against the Huskies — and to let Chris Rawlings know just how they feel about him. Even with BC fans present, Matthews was a sea of red and black, an extremely loud sea.

"It helps when we're home because we have a lot of fans that are cheering us on giving us that extra man on the ice. Even when we go there we have a lot of people that come and support us," Northeastern's Steve Quailer said. "When you've got so many students out there cheering you on, you just get a little more excited and a little more intense, and you feel like you need to play hard for them."

To say the two hockey programs have history is an understatement. Just last year, BC beat Northeastern in both an overtime Beanpot nail biter and the Hockey East semifinals, two losses for Northeastern that, after tonight, have got to feel fresh in the minds of Husky fans.

Adding to the tension is BC's freshman Johnny Gaudreau. Originally a Northeastern commit, Gaudreau was released over the summer amid Northeastern's coaching changes. Former head coach Greg Cronin left, and Gaudreau did too, heading crosstown to rival BC. Gaudreau also has personal history with Northeastern's Vinny Saponari, the two played together in Dubuque of the USHL just last year and spent most of the season on the same line.

It quickly became clear to anyone at Matthews who didn’t know about Gaudreau’s history between the two teams that something was up. He had to be separated from several Northeastern players and the chirping was nonstop throughout the first period.

When it came to nerves for Gaudreau coming to Matthews, York described him as a calm, cool player who doesn't let much bother him.

"He's the same every day, he's a special young guy," said York of Gaudreau.

When you add up alumni coaches, a handful of terribly close games and some player drama, you've got a recipe for a rivalry, something York certainly isn't arguing with.

"It's a big rivalry, there's no question," he said. "Their program just got that much better. Greg [Cronin] jumpstarted it, and Jim [Madigan] is doing an outstanding job coming in at that juncture and taking over. They were very, very good tonight."

"Everyone talks about BU/BC, but Northeastern/BC has been a really good rivalry since I've been here," Almeida said. “They have a really great team, and they battle hard. It's awesome playing against them."

As for Northeastern coach Jim Madigan, his main concern is beating the team on the bench across from him, regardless of history.

"Anytime you play the top team, you want to win," Madigan said. "We had an opportunity to win, and you don't get that chance every time you play the top team in the country." 

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