Friday’s matchup between No. 10 Maine and its host, an unpredictable Northeastern club, was billed as having potential for plenty of excitement. The game had just that but was missing one thing: a close score.
Maine used a six-goal outburst in one of the craziest second periods in Hockey East history to rout Northeastern, 8-2.
The period strangely saw all five goalies who dressed take the ice, along with a power-play goal, two shorthanders, a penalty shot, and a near-record three goals in 22 seconds at one point.
Pretty much the only thing lacking was a bench-clearing brawl.
“It’s crazy how things happen sometimes,” said Maine head coach Tim Whitehead, who saw his Black Bears improve to 7-1-1. “I was just glad we could limit our goals to two [against] and we were able to shut it down from there.”
“Shut it down” was exactly what the Black Bears did, scoring six times in a span of 10:17 to put the game away.
The period began with Maine starting goaltender Frank Doyle taking the ice but then skating back to the bench before the opening faceoff. He was replaced by Jimmy Howard (21 saves) before the period began.
Doyle faced 10 shots in the opening period, stopping all of them, but left the game with what Whitehead classified as a tweaked leg.
“He came to the bench and said he wasn’t 100 percent, so there was no need to send him back in there,” said Whitehead. “We’ve got two good goalies that we can use when we’re in those situations.”
Howard’s appearance put on the line his school-record shutout streak of 187:23 that dated back to October 18. He was tested very early and made a highlight-reel glove save on Trevor Reschny. Camped out in front, Reschny fired a one-timer from 10 feet. Somehow Howard flashed the glove, and deflected it over the net.
Whitehead thought that save might have been the turning point in the game.
“[Jimmy] was tested right away and he made several real big saves,” said Whitehead. “That turned the game around and we came down and scored a few goals. After that, we had them back a little.”
Maine put NU back on its heels, scoring three times in the opening five minutes of the second to launch the Bears to a 5-0 lead.
Lucas Lawson began the outburst at 2:48, scoring on a give-and-go with Martin Kariya. Rookie Greg Moore blasted a shot under the crossbar after beating the entire NU team single-handedly on an end-to-end rush at 4:29.
That signaled the end of the night for NU starter Keni Gibson (11 saves), forcing Mike Gilhooly into action — the game’s fourth goaltender in less than 25 minutes.
Gilhooly, though, was greeted rudely, surrendering a goal on a screen shot 25 seconds after his entrance to give Maine a quick 5-0 lead.
NU’s Eric Ortlip would finally strike on the power play, scoring a rebound goal that ended Howard’s shutout streak at 194:45.
The goal ignited a wild 22 seconds. Maine’s Derek Damon scored 11 seconds later, before NU’s Ryan Dudgeon answered 11 seconds after that. The three goals in 22 seconds were seven seconds shy of the Hockey East record for fastest three goals.
After Robert Liscak extended the lead to 7-2 for Maine at 7:56, NU lifted Gilhooly, forcing into action the game’s fifth and final dressed goaltender, Tim Heneroty (19 saves).
“Goalies have to be difference makers in this league,” said NU head coach Bruce Crowder. “We’re at the point now were we’ve got to get [goaltending] back [under control] so that they’re difference makers.”
Heneroty would surrender the period’s — and ironically, the game’s — final goal at 13:05 to Lawson, his second on the night. The explosive second period was somehow followed by a meaningless third period that had no scoring at all.
Before that goal, though, was possibly the another turning point when Howard stopped NU’s Mike Ryan on a penalty shot at 8:47. The shot was awarded during a Northeastern power play when a Maine player closed his glove on the puck in the crease.
“It’s 7-2 and we’re on the power play, and then we get a penalty shot and we would’ve had a minute to go [on the power play],” said Crowder. “Maine maybe opened the door there and we weren’t able to execute.”
The win for Maine ends a winless streak at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena that dates back over three years. Over that span, Northeastern held a 3-0-2 advantage on home ice, something Whitehead was conscious of entering the evening.
“We talked about it during the week that we hadn’t won [here] since February 5, 1999,” said Whitehead. “This team is really good in their own rink. They knocked off Providence here and they tied New Hampshire. We just had some puck luck today.”
Maine will hope to take that puck luck across town Saturday night to face No. 7 Boston University, which fell on Friday, 3-2, to No. 1 Boston College.
“We know we’re in Hockey East and in the meat of our schedule,” said Whitehead. “We’ve got a big game tomorrow at BU in a good atmosphere with a good crowd. We need to prepare now for that.”
Northeastern will remain idle until next Friday when it travels to face top-ranked Boston College.