In a Friday night matchup of Hockey East adversaries, seventh ranked Northeastern scored three goals in the second period and held off No. 15 Vermont, 5-3, in front of a sold out Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Huskies senior Ryan Ginand notched two power-play goals while teammates Tyler McNeely, Steve Silva and Alex Tuckerman added a goal and an assist each. Northeastern goaltender Brad Thiessen, the Hockey East Goalie of the Month in October, finished with 21 saves.
The loss snaps Vermontâ€™s three game unbeaten streak and runs their record to 4-3-2 (1-3-1 HEA) while Northeastern improves to 7-1-2 (5-1-1 HEA).
â€œI think the team that played better won tonight,â€ said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. â€œThey were hungry at our net and equally hungry defending their own net and we didnâ€™t have that.â€
The Catamounts came out flying in the first period and scored on the power play at 7:22 to take a 1-0 lead. Executing a textbook give-and-go, junior Viktor Stalberg found linemate Brian Roloff parked at the bottom of the right circle and then crashed the net. Waiting a split-second for the Huskies defense to cave, Roloff returned the puck to Stalberg who one timed the feed through the five-hole of Thiessen.
The tally was Stalbergâ€™s fourth of the season and snapped a string of 19 straight penalty kills for the Huskies.
â€œWe knew Vermont would come out the first 10 minutes loaded and ready to go,â€ said Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin. â€œI thought they really controlled the pace, they had some quality chances and I think our goalie played well.â€
Northeastern responded at 16:43 while shorthanded to tie the score at one. Picking the pocket of
Vermont defenseman Dan Lawson near center ice, McNeely found himself all alone on a breakaway and beat freshman goaltender Rob Madore top shelf on the backhand. The tally came with just 3 seconds remaining on a Catamount power play and was the fourth shorthanded goal for the Huskies this season.
â€œ[That goal] kind of settled us down,â€ said Cronin. â€œIt got us into a little bit more of a calmer rhythm.â€
Gaining momentum, the Huskies dominated in the second period, outshooting Vermont 12-5. Just 2:13 in, Steve Quailer raced down the left boards and connected with Silva uncovered on the doorstep to make it 2-1. The strike was Silvaâ€™s first of the year.
Northeastern struck again less than four minutes later on the power play. Quarterbacking the man advantage, Ginand fired a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff dot that deflected off of Catamount defenseman Kyle Medvec and beat a helpless Madore to run the score to 3-1.
Attempting to stymie Northeasternâ€™s rising momentum, Sneddon called a timeout less than three minutes later and his club responded. Skating four-on-four, Stalberg secured a bouncing puck at center ice and led a 3-on-1 break.
After going wide on the net, Stalberg cut back in, made the defender commit and threaded the needle to Roloff who beat Thiessen for his third goal of the season. The tally came at 8:56 and cut the Huskies lead to 3-2.
In a continuation of the back and forth theme, Northeastern re-established their two goal lead less than four minutes later. Set up wide to Madoreâ€™s left, Tuckerman one-timed a bouncing puck that just cleared the goal line by a few inches to make it 4-2.
Working a 5-on-3 man advantage, Northeastern extended the lead to 5-2 at 7:45 of the final period. Ginand lit the lamp amidst a wild scrum for his second goal of the game.
Vermont would answer on a power play of their own less than two minutes later to cut the deficit to 5-
3. Senior captain Dean Strong found Justin Milo at the bottom of the right circle and Milo one-timed a blistering shot that eluded Thiessen high, glove side.
Despite pulling Madore (23 saves) for an extra attacker with two minutes remaining, Vermont was unable to claw any closer as Thiessen slammed the door. Coming into the game, Thiessen ranked eighth in the country in goals against average (1.53) and fourth in save percentage (.951).
â€œWe had the opportunities but heâ€™s such a good goalie that heâ€™s either going to make you miss or make the save a lot of times,â€ said Sneddon of Thiessen. â€œWe score three goals on Northeastern we better be winning that hockey game. Thereâ€™s no excuse for giving up five.â€
â€œIâ€™ve said it all along,â€ Cronin added. â€œ[Thiessenâ€™s] very poised he doesnâ€™t really seem to respond to the ebb and flow of a game. Heâ€™s a pretty focused guy.â€
Northeastern finished 2-7 with the man advantage while Vermont went 2-6.
â€œI think at times we looked like we were the better team but they played a better game and certainly deserved to win from start to finish,â€ said Sneddon.