BOSTON -- Twenty years ago, Northeastern sophomore Sebastien Laplante lifted the eighth-seeded Huskies on his shoulders, marched across town to No. 1 seed Boston College, and knocked the Eagles out of the Hockey East playoffs by scoring five points in a 6-5 victory.
The 1991 Huskies lost 4-3 in the Hockey East semifinals to powerhouse Maine in the old Boston Garden, but not before Laplante pushed the Black Bears to overtime with two goals, good enough to land him on the all-tournament team and a place in Northeastern lore.
This year, with Laplante behind the bench for No. 6 seed NU as an assistant coach, the Huskies are again heading to the Garden -- the TD Garden -- after dispatching third-seed Boston University by a 5-4 score in a wild rubber match of their three-game quarterfinal series before 3,884 at Agganis Arena.
“We have a good team this year,” Laplante said prior to the quarterfinals. “We have a lot of good players. And just like that team from the 1991 season, there's a lot of confidence and energy and enthusiasm. We're really excited to get to started.”
The Huskies (14-15-8) made good on Laplante’s assessment, but not before the Terriers (19-12-8) put up a fierce fight, battling down to the wire.
Cody Ferriero, a freshman from Essex, Mass., opened the scoring for the Huskies with a power-play tally at 9:30, and teammate Brodie Reid doubled Northeastern’s lead with his 10th goal of the season two minutes later.
At 15:27, the Terriers got a goal back when Matt Nieto struck with the man-advantage. The two squads skated through a scoreless second period, but it was the proverbial calm before a six-goal final-period storm.
Northeastern reclaimed a two-goal lead when Steve Silva notched a power-play tally at 6:48 of the third, with BU’s Alex Chiasson serving two minutes for hitting from behind.
Chiasson redeemed himself two minutes later, scoring a power-play strike of his own after Northeastern’s Braden Pimm was sent off for hooking, closing the gap to 3-2. Reid potted his second of the game at 14:39 to restore Northeastern’s two-goal cushion, and Wade Macleod pushed the score to 5-2 with his 20th of the season at 17:46.
Game over? Not even close. BU’s Justin Courtnall lit the lamp less than a minute later, then Northeastern’s Randy Guzior was whistled for interference with 25 seconds left in the game. With goaltender Kieran Millan (27 saves) pulled to create a two-man advantage, BU’s Wade Megan got the Terriers within 5-4 just 11 seconds later.
However, the Terriers couldn’t produce any last-second miracles against NU’s Chris Rawlings (31 saves) and became the only home team sent packing from the Hockey East playoffs.
The Huskies, meanwhile, booked their spot in the semifinals at the Garden against old nemesis Boston College (the teams split their HE regular-season series, though BC tipped the Huskies in the Beanpot final, 7-6). Expect the Huskies to make sure their good luck charm -- Laplante -- is firmly rooted to the Northeastern bench.
No. 18 Dartmouth 4, Harvard 3
Cinderella’s slipper shattered as third-seeded Dartmouth coolly ousted the 10th-seeded Crimson from the ECAC playoffs, scoring three unanswered third-period goals in Hanover, N.H.
The Big Green (18-11-3) bounced back from a series-opening loss on Friday to win in overtime on Saturday, then came from behind on Sunday to take the quarterfinal matchup two games to one, securing a spot in the ECAC Hockey semifinals next weekend in Atlantic City.
Harvard (12-21-1) led twice on Sunday, but couldn’t pull off the upset. Alex Fallstrom opened the scoring at 7:15, giving the Crimson a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission. Dartmouth’s Doug Jones answered with a power-play tally on 56 seconds into the second stanza, setting up a wild third period.
Harvard’s Michael Del Mauro put the Crimson ahead at 4:54, but then the Big Green turned on the style, ripping off three straight by Matthew Linblad at 7:07, Evan Stephans at 13:43 and a power-play strike by Linblad at 16:50.
Fallstrom gave the Crimson one last gasp with his second goal of the night, a power-play marker, with only 20 seconds left. However, Dartmouth and goaltender James Mello (35 saves) ran out the clock to end the Crimson’s bid.
Harvard’s Ryan Carroll finished with 27 saves, but absorbed the loss.