A two-goal middle period for the Northeastern Huskies men’s hockey team was enough to put away the University of Maine Black Bears Friday night, topping their Hockey East conference foes in the first game of the final regular season series by the score of 5-3.
Both teams traded a pair of goals in the opening period before the Huskies came to life, notching two unanswered goals in the second period before Maine could respond in the final period on the stick of second-year forward Cedric Lacroix. The Huskies would tally an empty net goal late in the contest to put the game out of reach and clinch the 5-3 win.
Third-year forward Zach Aston-Reese and first-year defender Eric Williams netted early goals for the Huskies in the first period. Second-year forward Nolan Stevens assisted on both plays, and finished the night with three points.
The Black Bears hottest goal scorers returned the favor before the end of the period. Fourth-year forwards Andrew Tegeler and Will Merchant both found twine on Huskies first-year goaltender Ruck Ryan (13-10-4), who stopped 34 of 37 shots in the contest. Third-year forwards Blaine Byron and Cam Brown assisted on Tegeler’s goal.
Merchant’s goal came on a chip in at goalmouth, cleaning up the rebound opportunity on a shot from first-year forward Brendan Robbins.
Williams netted his second goal for the Huskies to open up the middle period and give Northeastern a 3-1 lead. Nolan Stevens assisted again on the play.
First-year forward Patrick Schule notched the second Huskies goal of the period just 58 seconds later. Maine outshot Northeastern 11-7 in the period, but the Huskies cashed in their scoring opportunities on Black Bears first-year netminder Rob McGovern (2-12-3), who stopped 21 of 25 in the contest.
Maine’s offensive tenacity continued in the final period, as Lacroix scored his fourth goal of the season. The Black Bears outshot Northeastern 15-6, but couldn’t find a way past Ryan, who stayed stout in net despite the constant pressure applied by Maine.
Black Bears Head Coach Red Gendron made the decision to pull McGovern with 1:44 remaining in regulation. The Black Bears managed to get three shots on Ryan with the extra attacker before Huskies first-year forward Adam Gaudette tallied an empty-net goal with 39 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach for Maine.
Both teams struggled on special teams in the contest. Maine failed to cash in any of their three power play opportunities, and Northeastern went 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
Maine outshot Northeastern 37-26 in the contest, and won 39 of 64 faceoffs.
Huskies dominate Maine in 7-1 win
Northeastern completed the weekend sweep of the Black Bears in a dominating fashion, topping the Black Bears 7-1 in game two. Maine’s penalty kill struggled throughout the contest, giving up four power play goals to Northeastern, who converted on four of seven opportunities with the man advantage in the contest.
The second half of the weekend series featured 22 penalties among both teams, including penalties for roughing, facemasking and two game misconduct penalties on Maine by second-year forward Nolan Vesey and second-year defender Mark Hamilton.
Maine’s lone goal came in the opening period on the power play from Vesey. Third-year defender Eric Schurhamer assisted on the play.
The Huskies jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first period before the Black Bears had a response. Gaudette notched the first Huskies’ goal on the power play just over the seven-minute mark of the period. Third-year forward John Stevens and Aston-Reese assisted on the score.
Nolan Stevens and fourth-year forward Kevin Roy would both notch even strength goals on Black Bears third-year netminder Matt Morris less than three minutes apart in the middle of the period before Vesey would score the Black Bears only goal. Morris got his first start after a two-game absence stemming back to his struggles against Merrimack last weekend.
In the middle period, the Huskies notched two more goals, one of them coming on the power play by fourth-year defender Colton Saucerman.
With 1:42 remaining in the period, six different penalties were assessed on the same play, with two Black Bears picking up roughing and elbowing minors and two Huskies players picking up roughing penalties. Vesey also earned a 10-minute game misconduct penalty during the altercation. Fourth-year forward Mike McMurtry added the Huskies other goal in the period, giving Northeastern a 5-1 advantage heading into the second intermission.
Northeastern added two goals in the third period, both of them coming on the man advantage. Aston-Reese notched his second goal of the weekend near the 14-minute mark of the period. Third-year forward Tanner Pond rounded out Northeastern’s scoring with a power play tally late in the period.
Another squabble ensued late in the final period, when Hamilton picked up a facemasking penalty and game misconduct penalty and was ejected from the contest.
Northeastern outshot Maine 33-27 in the contest. Maine converted only one of its three power play opportunities. The Black Bears finished with 50 penalty minutes on 14 infractions.
Ryan picked up the win in net for Northeastern, stopping 22 of the 23 shots he faced in the contest. Morris stopped just 26 of the Huskies’ 33 shots and continues to struggle in net for Maine.
Maine is scheduled to return to action for the Hockey East postseason tournament on March 4. The Black Bears are slated to play Northeastern again in the first round of tournament action.