The Northeastern Huskies secured possibly their most important win of the season so far in dramatic fashion, overcoming a 3-1 deficit to defeat the #9 UMass-Lowell Riverhawks 4-3. Dylan Sikura was the hero of the night, scoring a natural hat trick in the final eight minutes of the game, the first one since Kevin Roy in 2015 against Connecticut, and the first time a Husky to score three goals in a period since Cody Ferriero did it against Harvard in 2012.
Northeastern got into a 2-0 hole after allowing two powerplay goals, the first off a rocket of a wrster from Ryan Lohin in the first period, and the second off a rebound goal where Ryan Ruck was not able to get over to the post in time to block the rebound shot. The first Huskies goal, on their own powerplay, cut the deficit to 2-1. Matt Filipe took the put at the goal line and walked in for the initial shot, which Garrett Metcalf saved, before Grant Jozefek pounded away at the loose puck and swatted it past Metcalf. It was Jozefek’s first collegiate goal.
Lowell converted on another powerplay in the third before Sikura’s heroics began. Sikura’s first goal was a sniper’s shot from 40+ feet out, ringing it off the far post and in. The tying goal was off a burst of speed that we’ve seen before from Sikura this season, and the shot squeezed under Metcalf’s left arm and through to the net. After Lowell coach Norm Bazin made a goaltender switch, Tyler Wall held the Huskies at bay until the final 20 seconds, when Adam Gaudette beat out an icing call and fed Sikura all alone in the slot with a deft backhand pass from the corner- simply a tremendous play by Gaudette to make that goal happen.
This win secured two critical points for Northeastern in the standings. Ryan Ruck saved 21 of 24 shots, and while rebounds were again a concern, Ruck made some spectacular saves that deserve to go on his highlight reel, including two in a row just before the third UML goal. Ruck kept Northeastern in the game, but did not get much help from his team’s discipline or penalty kill, which has now allowed multiple powerplay goals in consecutive games. The Huskies have had a strong penalty kill all season, but as we enter February, this isn’t the portion of the season where they can afford to regress.
The Huskies have a short turnaround thanks to some unorthodox scheduling, as tonight they will take on the flagship UMass program, the Minutemen of Amherst. Under first-year coach Greg Carvel, UMass has struggled, skating to a present record of 5-19-2, with only 5 points earned in Hockey East out of a possible 28. It is a game that Northeastern should win handily before focusing again on Lowell Friday 2/3.
UMass is led in scoring by their captain Steven Iacobellis, who I personally always enjoy watching, with a 5-9-14 line. He is the epitome of a leader on the ice, and has had a successful UMass career. The leading goal scorer is freshman Griff Jeszka, with 6 goals on the year. Their primary goalie has been Ryan Wischow, a freshman, who has played in 20 games and put up a .903 save percentage overall (.883 in conference) to go with a 2.98 goals-against-average (3.33 in conference). As a team UMass is last in scoring (1.92 goals per game), last in defense (3.42 goals allowed per game), and has the worst powerplay in the conference (9.6%).
Again, this is a game that Northeastern should win going away, and we expect them to. A recap will follow, with no preview for the second Lowell game. You can read the first Lowell preview here.