BOSTON, MA – After jumping out to a 1-0 lead less than one minute into the game thanks to a Garret Cockerill goal, the Northeastern Huskies needed at third period flurry of goals to defeat the #11 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers 6-4 at Matthews Arena. Entering the period down 4-2, the Huskies received goals from Dylan Sikura (2), Adam Gaudette (PPG), and Zach Aston-Reese (EN) to put the dogs up for good. Sikura’s was the first hat trick by Northeastern since Kevin Roy and Aston-Reese each had one against UConn on February 13, 2015.
After the Cockerill goal to kick off the scoring, the teams traded goals before ending the period with Minnesota up 3-2. Northeastern received their other goal from Sikura. Ryan Ruck saved 8 of 11 shots on net, causing many Huskies fans to worry about his abilities in net yet again, including this blogger. The three shots that beat him traveled a combined 5 miles per hour, and included a beautiful tip, a wraparound in which Ruck was way out of position to play a carom off the back boards, and a shot after another backboard carom that Ruck got most of but it squeaked over the line. Three goals, two of which he should have saved, or at least been in better position for.
The second period Northeastern went scoreless, and Ruck turned in a better performance, saving 10 of 11 shots. The goal that beat him was a tip in from that again, Ruck saved most of it but it edged over the goal line. Another one that one would expect goalies at this level to stop. In the third period, Ruck turned away all 9 shots that he faced, bringing his totals to 27 saves on 31 shots- 87%, in line with what we have come to expect from Number 41 this year.
The story of the night was without a doubt Dylan Sikura. The Blackhawks draft pick had 3 goals and 1 assist for 4 points, and was making plays all over the ice, all 200 feet. Sikura put up 7 shots on goal, a season high, and all three of them were worthy of being called snipes. Check out his third of the night below:
— Northeastern MHKY (@GoNUmhockey) November 26, 2016
Sikura is a player that many highlighted to be crucial for Northeastern’s success, filling in the playmaking and scoring roles that Kevin Roy vacated when he graduated. Sikura has answered the bell, scoring 9 goals and registering 13 assists in 14 games, among the best in the conference and the nation.
This is a win that could signal the turnaround for the Huskies. By far their most impressive win of the season, it once again proves that they can hang with any team that they play, and that they can score goals on good, quality teams. Coach Jerry Keefe called it a “character win” and I believe he is right. Questions do remain, particularly still in net, but this team has the pieces together to make another long run deep into March.