Forget New Hampshire-Maine. Never mind Northeastern-Boston University. No. 13 New Hampshire and No. 6 Northeastern is the newest rivalry in Hockey East to take center stage.
The Huskies and Wildcats battled hard for 60 minutes before Northeastern was finally able to pull away late in the third with a 3-2 in front of 4,788 fans at Matthews Arena.
UNH had a decision to make before the game even started. Goalie Brian Foster missed the previous three games with an injury and back up Matt DiGirolamo, though he played well against NU two weeks ago, had struggled in his last two games giving up 15 goals. Umile went with Foster.
“I don’t know if [Foster] is 100%. I’m sure he’s a little sore, but he played hard.” Umile said after the game. “Brian played fine, solid, both goaltenders played well today”
Northeastern bounced to lead less than two minutes into the game when freshmen Alex Tuckerman scored his fourth of the year. Freshmen line mate Steve Quailer was screaming down the boards to UNH goalie Brian Foster’s right hand side, Quailer took a quick shot on net which Foster turned away with his pad.
The puck sat momentarily in the slot before Steve Silva took a whack at it. The Silva shot bounced off the pad of Foster. Tuckerman then grabbed the loose puck and slid it past the sprawled Foster.
It would be almost 40 minutes of hockey till the goal lamp lit again. The second period was marred by penalties with 14 being called to the two sides, and 10 minute misconducts going to Northeastern forward Randy Guzior and UNH forward James van Riemsdyk for contact to the head.
At 1:54 of the third period van Riemsdyk, who had been hounded by Northeastern fans all game because of the previous games penalties, found the back of the net tying the game at one. Joe Charlebois ripped a shot from the point that was turned away by Northeastern goalie Brad Thiessen.
The rebound slid to Thissen’s right, where van Riemsdyk grabbed the loose puck, slid it to the backhand and put it into the open net.
Halfway through the third the Huskies picked up the lead once again when Ryan Ginand scored his seventh of the year. Ginand controlled the puck in the corner and drove towards the net along the goal line. From just in front of the goal line Ginand took a wrist shot that seemed to bounce of Foster’s back and into the back of the net.
The Huskies gave themselves what seemed to be a comfortable two goal lead when Wade MacLeod scored a two-on-one wrister past Foster. Wade MacLeod and long-time linemate Tyler McNeely came in two-on-one with MacLeod controlling the puck. MacLeod chose to shot, and ripped it under the arm of Foster.
“I was looking pass the whole time to see if Tyler [McNeely] can get open but the D-man stayed in the middle and I just turned and fired it, got lucky it went under his arm,â€ said MacLeod about the goal.
That two tally lead was diminished with 53.4 seconds left in the game when UNH got on the board again with the goalie pulled. A scrum for the puck at the point left the Huskies a man short down low, and van Riemsdyk scored his second goal of the game, his eighth of the season, once again making it a one goal game.
With the face-off coming at center ice Brian Foster had to take to the net to prevent a quick Northeastern goal. Joe Vitale won the draw for the Huskies and Northeastern quickly dumped the puck down into the UNH zone. As the seconds ticked off the clock, UNH struggled to clear their own zone and never really established a presence in the NU end before the final horn sounded with the Huskies narrowly escaping with the one goal advantage.
Northeastern’s struggling power play went 0-5, but in a stark contrast to last Saturday’s game at Boston University, managed to get 11 shots on net, compared to the zero they had at BU in five power play opportunities.
“Great movement on the power play, we had numerous opportunities, their kid played a terrific game, I thought Foster was terrific,â€ Cronin commented. â€œWe had an identity tonight [and] there was puck movement and guys skating without the puck. You can see New Hampshire was a little confused by it [their power play]; we just didn’t get the goal that would have made it a productive night.”
For UNH head coach Dick Umile, it was not a terrible loss.
“I thought it was an excellent college game both teams played real hard,â€ Umile said. â€œI was happy with the way we played defensively, I thought we battled hard and obviously they beat us. I mean the second goal that they got in the third period, the winning goal, they beat us out of the corner and got it to the net I think it went in off of Brian on the short side I mean that was…the winning goal was a block shot a two on one and they scored. Itâ€™s tough. You can play well here and still lose. I thought we played a lot better last time, but no results, hopefully this just makes us better.”
The two teams split the season series 1-1-1, tying the middle game and will not face each other again until a possible playoff series. UNH (4-5-3, 2-3-2 HEA) is in Providence Saturday night while Northeastern (8-2-2, 6-2-1 HEA) travels to Lowell. Both games face off at 7 p.m. EST.