Coming off a three week holiday break and playing without their top defenseman Jordan Harris, the Northeastern Huskies put on a show in Hartford last night, scoring one highlight-reel goal after another on their way to a dominating 5-2 with over UConn. The victory puts the Huskies back in first in Hockey East, though games in hand for other schools will likely change that, and on the way to another strong semester.
Northeastern opened the scoring early, as within the first thirty seconds, Matt Filipe was able to get around the UConn defense for a breakaway and deposit the puck behind Tomas Vomacka. They would double their lead midway through the first when Zach Solow singlehandedly forced a neutral zone turnover, put the puck through a UConn player to transition back up the ice, got space beyond a defenseman, and sniped the puck over Vomacka. Tyler Madden took his turn at the highlight reel five minutes later, dangling around the entire UConn defense to get alone with Vomacka before deking and scoring on the backhand to stake Northeastern to yet another early 3-0 lead. Madden was featured on the SportsCenter top ten for the goal.
The Huskies went back to the highlight reel in the second, as the first power play unit moved the puck tic-tac-toe through the zone to find Solow in front for the finish, thanks in part to Madden and Aidan McDonough. Matt DeMelis later knocked home a Neil Shea rebound to bring the lead to 5-0 before UConn finally got on the board to end the second period.
Northeastern came out strong in the third, eventually building a 27-14 shot lead for the game, but collapsed down the stretch, letting UConn control play for a few minutes before taking a disastrous double penalty when McDonough was called for goalie interference then during the delayed penalty Mike Kesselring took a major and game misconduct for cross-checking. Craig Pantano came up strong on the 5 (and at times 6) on 3 power play, killing off both the minor and the major to keep NU’s penalty kill percentage intact and escape with a 5-2 win. UConn had 14 of the final 16 shots on goal in the game.
This was a dominant game for the first 50 minutes for Northeastern, with their skill getting the best of UConn time and time again. The only issue is the lack of finish, whether it’s because they ran out of gas after the long break, decided the game was already over, are a young team, or just were hurting from a combination of missing Harris, losing Julian Kislin during the game, and losing Kesselring, playing a full sixty minutes will be the next goal on Monday.
As we’ve mentioned a lot recently, Northeastern has been scoring early and often, and the scoring has come from everywhere:
Madden has points in 14 of his last 16 games.
Solow has points in 16 of 19 including an 8 game active point streak.
Jayden Struble is on a 5 game active point streak after battling injuries earlier in the year.
Ryan Shea on a 10 game active point streak and has points in 12 of the last 14.
Filipe is on a 6 game active streak and has points in 8 of 9 games.
McDonough has points 9 of his last 12.
Neil Shea has points in 4 of his last 6 games.
DeMelis has points in 3 of his last 4 games.
I’m sure so many concurrent streaks happening together isn’t quite unprecedented I’m sure, but it’s amazing to see so many points coming so early and so often from so many different members of the roster. This is a team that had serious scoring struggles early and then flipped a switch and essentially figured it out all at once.
The Huskies turn their attention to their home opener of the semester on Monday, as they welcome the team that has been a persistent thorn in their side during Jim Madigan’s tenure, the Bentley Falcons. Bentley is 7th in Atlantic Hockey and 43rd in the Pairwise, making this an obvious must-win for the Huskies. Goaltending was their biggest issue in the fall, as senior Aidan Pelino started 11 games and managed a 3-7-1 record on an .883 save percentage. Freshman Jason Grande lost his only decision but has saved .920 over 3 appearances, while sophomore Fraser Kirk has backstopped the Falcons to a 5-2 record in his appearances while holding a .918. The big scorer to watch out for is sophomore Jakov Novak, who put up an 11-8-19 line while shooting 23% on the fall semester. They have 4 other 10 point scorers, including freshman Matt Gosiewski, but the scoring is fairly balanced behind Novak. Their advanced metrics are somewhat favorable, with the Falcons outshooting their opponents and putting up a positive corsi on the year despite being outscored, but goaltending is the true equalizer and they haven’t had it. In their only Hockey East game so far this year, the Falcons performed in typical “Hockey East killer” fashion, defeating UNH 3-2 because of course they did. This is definitely a game Northeastern should win, but the effort is going to have to be there because their opponent will be nothing if not ready, something the Huskies already learned once this year against Holy Cross.