The Northeastern Huskies split their two Hockey East conference games this weekend, dominating Boston University Friday night in a 6-1 victory before being handed their first conference defeat of the season Saturday at Tsongas Arena by the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks. The Riverhawks defeated the Huskies 4-2 behind three third period goals, completing a comeback win.
Friday: Huskies Defeat BU, 6-1 – by Mike Davis
In the most complete game we’ve seen the Huskies put forth this season, the Huskies outskated, outworked, and completely outmatched their crosstown rivals. This victory, paired with the November 4th victory at Agganis Arena, gave the Huskies their first conference sweep over BU since the 1988-1989 season. The Huskies were powered by goals from Adam Gaudette (2), Lincoln Griffin (1), Nolan Stevens, and Bobby Hampton, while Cayden Primeau stopped 33 of BU’s 34 shots on goal.
As the embedded tweet shows, the Huskies raced out to an early 2-0 lead on Homecoming Night behind even strength goals by Stevens and Gaudette, largely controlling the pace of play in front of a sold-out Matthews Arena. The Huskies’ defense kept the Terriers at bay, with BU rarely threatening to score on Cayden Primeau. This changed in the second period, when Patrick Harper scored on a delayed Huskies penalty, cutting the lead in half and putting the momentum in BU’s favor.
The Huskies were undeterred, though. They killed off that ensuing Terriers powerplay, and added a goal of their own, on their own powerplay, late in the third to re-establish their two goal lead. That goal was a wonderful display of execution- from the point, Zach Solow fired the puck intentionally wide to Jake Oettinger’s left, and the puck rebounded off the back wall perfectly to Adam Gaudette who was stationed on the far post. Gaudette tucked the puck into the open net, and flashed the front of his jersey toward the silent Terrier fan base located in the lower bowl as the Huskies faithful erupted.
In the third period, there was never any doubt which team would come away with the victory. The Huskies stymied every one of BU’s offensive rushes, with Primeau making some timely saves in close to keep the rivals at bay. The Huskies added two Lincoln Griffin goals, the second of which yielded a highlight that will be played for years to come in this rivalry:
That final goal by Griffin would also lead to Oettinger getting pulled for the final minutes of the game, and Max Prawdzik would make his first appearance of the season. The game would devolve into chippy banter with lots of pushing and shoving before the final buzzer, the worst offense coming with 12 seconds left when Patrick Curry buried Brandon Schultz into the boards, and was met by Bobby Hampton among other Huskies as retaliation. Curry was tossed from the game for the last 12 seconds, but the Huskies would finish with an exclamation point on that last powerplay. Hampton would win the faceoff back to Billy Carrabino, who yielded to Trevor Owens‘ last-second shot that was tipped home by Hampton. It was a fitting end to a dominating performance by Northeastern, giving BU one last kick in the groin on their way out of Matthews Arena.
It was by far the best the Huskies had looked all season. Even strength, special teams, and goaltending all worked brilliantly, and coupled with a stellar DogHouse and Matthews Arena crowd, this was one of those games that Huskies fans will remember fondly for years. A statement win for Northeastern, and certainly one to build on moving past this weekend, even with the disappointing loss to Lowell the following night.
Saturday: Huskies Fall to Lowell, 4-2 – by Mike Downie
Unfortnately on Saturday night, the Huskies very much looked the part of a team that was coming off an energy-charged, physical, and emotional game the night before and wasn’t really ready for another game. And if we’re being honest, I felt the exact same way sitting in the stands, watching them while pondering how soon I could go to sleep. Jeremy Davies and Nolan Stevens scored power play goals, but the Huskies failed to beat Cristoffer Hernberg at even strength for the second time this season and two third-period goals by Tommy Panico propelled the River Hawks to a 4-2 victory. Primeau held strong in a 11 save first period to keep the Huskies in the game but couldn’t hold up in the third, perhaps in part due to the effects of Connor Sodergren elbowing him in the helmet for a game misconduct and Nick Master receiving a penalty for charging him over the course of the game.
UMass-Lowell dominated the first, very much looking the fresher and more energetic team, but thanks to Mattias Goransson interference penalty the Huskies were able to draw first blood. Gaudette centered Stevens on the ensuring power play, and the captain kicked the puck up to Davies, who walked down into the low slot uncovered and picked his spot, beating Hernberg through the five hole. Lowell resumed their domination shortly after though, and Ryan Lohin was able to beat Primeau with 2:16 to play before the intermission, tying the score at 1-1 going into the break in a period where shots favored Lowell 12-6.
The second period, on the other hand, was all Huskies. The shot totals for the period were 21-5!!! in favor of NU, but once again, the suddenly-superstar goalie Hernberg was up to the task. He stopped chance after chance for the Huskies, only finally conceding late in the period after Sodergren received a major for an elbow laid to the head of Primeau, who laid motionless on the ice for a few moments before remaining in the game. Just 1:30 into the ensuing advantage, Stevens was able to find the rebound of a Gaudette shot and knock it home for both his and Gaudette’s second point of the night, giving Stevens goals in 4 consecutive games. This would be the only goal on the major Northeastern would score.
The third started with a flurry for NU, but unfortunately, that would be their last dangerous chance of the game. Tommy Panico would win a puck battle in front of the net and put it past Primeau to tie the game at 2. Just 2:38 later it was Nick Master’s turn, as the junior forward went in one on one and shot the puck off a defender’s stick, where it knuckled to the far side of Primeau and into the goal. The 3-2 lead was one that Lowell wouldn’t come close to relinquishing, quashing the Huskies all period and sealing the deal when Panico hit the empty cage from nearly 200 feet away in the waning moments for his second goal of the period. Lowell would lead the shot board for the period 13-8 despite the Huskies trailing.
I’m not particularly concerned about this game. The Huskies stood up to a good Lowell team (and yes, they are good, despite their slow start) and one of the hottest goalies in the country despite not having Dylan Sikura or Garret Cockerill, and could have come out with a victory. It’s a shame that they didn’t and it’s always a shame to drop two league points, but there was going to be a letdown game at some point and going into Lowell is far from the worst place for it to happen. As long as they bounce back next week and take care of a struggling UVM team and a BC team that’s starving for goals despite their conference record, all will still be fine on St. Boltoph St.
The goalie situation will be interesting though, as Ryan Ruck is still out with a concussion and Primeau is likely reeling after receiving the major penalty from Sodergren and a charge in the third from Master, who received a minor on the play and was suspened by Hockey East for the infraction. If neither goalie can go, the Huskies may be faced with starting Jake Theut with a club goalie on the bench, but early indications seem to be that Primeau is okay and Ruck may be ready to make his return as early as Friday.
We will have previews of Vermont and Boston College in the coming days. As always, go Huskies!