Huskies Squeeze Past RIT

In a Thanksgiving Saturday matchup at historic Matthews Arena, the Northeastern Huskies used a pair of goals in the opening minutes and another pair in the third to make their way past RIT by a score of 4-3. After much review, the game-tying goal was awarded to Grant Jozefek and the game winning goal to Tyler Madden, on tips of shots from Jeremy Davies and Jordan Harris, respectively. Jozefek’s goal was his ninth of the season, placing him second in Hockey East and fourth nationally in goal scoring.

The Huskies came out with a bang, as Zach Solow scored just over a minute into the game after a netfront scramble. Full disclosure, I do not believe this puck ever entered the net. You can watch it and decide for yourself, but I’m fairly certain it stayed out. There was a review which was evidently not conclusive enough to overturn the call. Thank you Hockey East refs. The lead was doubled moments later, as Logan Drackett exited his net to play the puck and was the victim of some Matthews magic, as an odd bounce off the corner boards led to Liam Pecararo depositing the puck into the empty net as Drackett looked on.

The second period was all RIT though, as the Tigers rallied to put three past Cayden Primeau using their full arsenal of offense, including a screened shot from high up the point and a wild deflection from beside the goal. Northeastern wasn’t necessarily “bad” in the period, but they were outplayed and couldn’t match RIT’s hunger, perhaps a bit complacent with the two goal lead while RIT was angry that either goal even happened.

But this year is apparently the year of the Cardiac Canines, and the third period comeback was once again on display. It started with the Huskies’ leader Davies taking the puck around the net and wrapping around to the far side, where he found Jozefek’s stick for the tying goal. The goal initially appeared to be Davies’ alone on the wraparound, but frame-by-frame analysis showed that it went off of Jozefek’s stick and past Drackett.

NU came out flying after that goal and wouldn’t be denied as Harris and Madden connected for the deflection game winner moments later. There were some scary moments at the end, as Primeau had to make a few fantastic saves, RIT hit some posts, and with around a minute to play a scrum led to Primeau staying down for an extended time as trainers worked on his lower body. The star goaltender stayed in the game though, making one more big save and stealing the win for NU.

I’m gonna be honest here. It’s amazing watching NU win every game at the dying breath. If clutch could be measured, I’m not sure a more clutch team could be found. Having said that, there is no way they can keep getting away with this. It just isn’t possible. You can’t play a rough second and trail entering the third every single game and come out winning every single game. The hockey gods have to get angry at your blasphemy at some point. It happened against Sacred Heart. And against St. Cloud. And against UConn. And Lowell. And Vermont (tied after 2). And RIT. That’s like two years worth of comeback wins in under a month. The process is sound, NU is outshooting their opponents on the year, out-attempting them, and sporting sustainable shot and save percentages. There’s no obvious statistical reason this team should regress, unlike certain other members of Hockey East who will remain nameless. But there is just no way they can just casually come back in the third every game like it’s nothing.

I think.

On to better notes; Jozefek is exploding on the scoresheet this season and we’ve barely even noticed because we’re so used to top NU forwards piling up goals, but he may be one the best players in Hockey East. Albeit he has 51 shot attempts and 36 shots on goal. But Brandon Hawkins can’t buy a goal this year (2 goals, 34 SOG) so it evens out.

Primeau was named second star in the win despite allowing three goals, which speaks to both the saves he did make and the lack of savability of the shots that went in. I don’t recall ever seeing a goalie named a star of the game while conceding that many times. It’s hard to say enough about how good he is, he’s already one of the top goalies in NU history, showing up every game and letting both the team and the fans know that no matter what happens they’re gonna have a chance to win. In an era of special talents on Huntington Ave, he may well end up the most special of them all. No offense to Mr. Gaudette or his banner.

The Huskies finish conference play for 2018 with a weird setup, a home game with Merrimack this Friday night at Matthews before traveling to Lawler Arena for a single game the following weekend (and then a third single-game weekend with Merrimack to open conference play in January.) We’ll have a preview up for both games later this week (and obviously won’t be repeating it again next week) so until then keep eating leftovers and as always, Go Huskies!