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Men’s hockey splits the weekend, closes out season on high note

Griffin Stockford & Marcus Caliendo

The University of Maine men’s hockey team fell 5-4 to the Northeastern University Huskies on Friday, Feb. 24. Third-year forward Nolan Stevens scored just 12 seconds into overtime, finishing off the Northeastern comeback that erased a 2-0 Maine lead earlier in the game. Second-year forward Adam Gaudette and fourth-year forward Zach Aston-Reese, who each had two goals in the victory, led the Huskies.

The Black Bears came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, scoring two goals in the first five minutes of the game.

The first goal came when fourth-year forward Blaine Byron created a turnover in the neutral zone and got the puck ahead to third-year defenseman Mark Hamilton, who was able to slide the puck through a cluster of defenders and into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

Less than a minute later, at 4:28 into the first period, it was second-year forward Brendan Robbins receiving a pass from fourth-year defenseman Eric Schurhamer, rattling a hard shot off the post and slotting his own rebound past second-year Northeastern goalie Ryan Ruck.

With the score 2-1 after Aston-Reese got one back for the Huskies, Northeastern scored two power play goals within a minute of each other during the last five minutes of the second period. The first came when Gaudette crashed the net and got his stick on a loose puck in the crease to beat Maine second-year goalie Rob McGovern, who seemed to have trouble locating the puck on the play.

Just 52 seconds later, the Huskies took their first lead of the night on Aston-Reese’s second goal of the game. After a hooking penalty sent Maine second-year defenseman Keith Muehlbauer to the penalty box, fourth-year forward John Stevens found Aston-Reese alone in the slot. Aston-Reese gathered the puck and beat McGovern’s glove side to make it 3-2 Huskies. The goal was Aston-Reese’s 29th of the season.

“We kind of got away from our game and took some penalties,” Byron said of the second period. “We’ve got to be able to build on that lead and not let teams slip back into the game.”

“The two penalties we took weren’t undisciplined,” Maine Head Coach Red Gendron said. “You’re going to have a couple penalties during the course of the game, just playing hard. Both of those calls weren’t because guys were lazy. They’re just part of the game.”

Maine refused to go away easy as they opened the first period with a goal at the 47- second mark. Byron caught the puck after Robbins’ shot deflected off of a Northeastern defender’s stick and tapped it in to tie the game 3-3.

“We played a pretty good third period and got ourselves back in the game. And we weren’t real pleased with ourselves, certainly [not] after the second,” Gendron said. “We thought we could attack them with a little more tenacity.”

However, with the Maine crowd still on its feet, Northeastern again took the lead 31 seconds later as Gaudette knocked one in off the left post for his second goal of the game.

Maine’s incessant hustle was rewarded with 9:07 left to play, when third-year forward Nolan Vesey beat his defender one-on-one down the left wing and beat Ruck’s glove side to make it 4-4. The goal was Vesey’s tenth of the season and a crucial one for the Black Bears.

“It was a loose puck and I was able to get a step on the D,” Vesey said. “I was able to settle it for a second and then make a move and I was fortunate enough that it went in.”

The game would remain tied throughout the remainder of regulation. But it took only twelve seconds for John Stevens to win the overtime face-off for Northeastern and swing it to third-year defenseman Garret Cockerill. Cockerill got it ahead to Aston-Reese who found Stevens for the backhand winner.

It was the fourth straight game that the Black Bears have had at least a 2-0 lead and haven’t been able to secure the victory.

“It was up and down. We got off to an early 2-0 lead and let them back in it,” Vesey said. “In the third [period] a spark lit under us. But we’ve got to figure out how to play a 60-minute game. It’s been the story all year.”

While the victory clinched home-ice advantage for the Huskies for the first round of the playoffs, Northeastern Head Coach Jim Madigan stressed the importance of playing well in the season finale against the Black Bears on Saturday night.

“We have to have the mindset here tomorrow night that two points are at stake here. We’ve got to keep playing well. There’s more there for us than just home ice right now,” Madigan said. “You want to have your last game of the season be meaningful and to play well because it leads into your next one, which is the playoffs.”


Men’s hockey takes down Huskies on “Senior Night” behind Vesey’s hat trick

Coming off a tough 5-4 loss in overtime the night before, Maine hoped to claim a win on Senior Night to cap off the regular season. The four players recognized for their last game were defenseman Eric Schurhamer, goaltender Matt Morris, alternate captain and forward Blaine Byron and Captain and forward Cam Brown. The Black Bears played their hearts out and defeated the Huskies 5-4. Maine improved to 11-19-4 (5-15-2 HE) on the season, while Northeastern dropped to 16-13-5 (9-10-3 HE).

Just 18 seconds into the game, the Huskies got on the scoreboard when fourth-year forward Tanner Pond scored, assisted by fourth-year forward Brendan Collier and first-year forward Matt Filipe. This was Pond’s first goal on the season.

“Getting an early one gave us the start we needed, but in the end you still have to find more ways to find the net. They got one more than us tonight, just as we did last night,” Pond said.

Northeastern would hold its lead until 11:59 during the first period, when Vesey scored off a faceoff from first-year forward Chase Pearson to tie the game at 1-1. This was Vesey’s 11th goal on the season.

No other scoring occurred in the opening 20 minutes and the Huskies were displaying a little more on offense as they had 21 shot attempts with 13 on goal, while Maine had 18 attempts with seven on goal.

Morris started in net for the Black Bears, who had 12 saves, while Ruck started for the Huskies, who had six.

On a power play 6:18 into the second period, Northeastern took the lead back to go up 2-1 when first-year defenseman Jeremy Davies scored, assisted by Filipe and Stevens. This was Davies’ seventh goal on the season.

Three minutes later at 9:21, Maine capitalized on a power play opportunity of its own when Pearson scored to tie the game once again at 2-2, assisted by fourth-year forward Cam Brown and Byron. This was Pearson’s 14th goal on the season.

About another three minutes into the middle period, the Huskies took a one-goal lead for the third time as third-year forward Dylan Sikura scored to make it 3-2, assisted by Stevens. This was Sikura’s 20th goal on the season.

At 19:32 of the second, Maine took advantage of another power play chance when Vesey scored his second of the game, assisted by Byron to make it 3-3. This was Vesey’s 12th goal on the season.

“After we tied it for the third time I knew we would come out in the third with fire. These boys wanted it for the seniors, and we showed that we can come back in the game several times,” Maine Head Coach Red Gendron said.

Despite dominating in the offensive end, Northeastern still saw themselves in a tie game and had 26 shot attempts with 17 on goal in the period, while Maine had 18 attempts with nine on goal. Morris made 15 saves and Ruck made seven.

Just 1:10 into the third period, Pearson was assessed a major penalty for boarding, which gave the Huskies a chance to score during their five-minute power play. At 2:30, Maine was called for too many men on the ice, which gave Northeastern a two-man advantage for two minutes.

Shortly after the minor penalty was killed off, Stevens got the lead back for Northeastern at 4:34 to make it 4-3. This was Stevens’ eighth goal on the season.

“Getting that 5-on-3 advantage helped us get the lead when we needed it, but that penalty shot is what took the energy out of us,” Stevens said.

While still killing off the major penalty, Byron was hooked by Sikura and was awarded a penalty shot. At 5:51, Byron shot it past Ruck to tie the game at 4-4. This was Byron’s 18th goal on the season.

“I knew that this was a huge chance of the game. Being a senior and scoring on that was probably the biggest goal of my life,” Byron said.

Exactly one minute later, Maine was on the power play when Vesey scored for his third time of the game and put the Black Bears on top for the first time in the contest at 5-4. This was Vesey’s 13th goal on the season.

“It’s not that common to get a hat trick, but man was I pumped. I wanted to win this for the boys as much as they wanted it, and I’m glad I could find ways to score tonight,” Vesey said.

The Black Bears were able to hold onto to the slim lead and earned a hard-fought win for the seniors on Senior Night. In the third period, Maine had 13 shot attempts with eight on goal, while Northeastern had 30 attempts and 14 on goal. Morris made 13 saves in the period and Ruck made six.

“It was similar like yesterday, but they made the most of their opportunities in the third period. We took some penalties that hurt us, and we can’t have that if we expect to play a consistent game,” Northeastern Head Coach Jim Madigan said.

Maine returns to action in the opening round of the Hockey East playoffs on Friday, March 3. Northeastern University also plays next in the Hockey East playoffs on Friday, March 3. Both teams wait to find out their next opponents, respectively.

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