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Northeastern University’s Wade MacLeod led the Huskies in a 6-3 victory over the Massachusetts Minutemen with two goals and an assist on home ice at Matthews Arena Saturday night in front of a crowd of 2,752. Freshman forward Robbie Vrolyk also notched two goals, as Northeastern swept the weekend series and improved its Hockey East standing to sixth.
“Obviously it was a big win for us,” said Northeastern coach Greg Cronin. “I thought for most of the game we were very solid defensively and that’s really the backbone of our team. I think they know who they are now. At the beginning of the year, there were so many injuries that it was hard to get into a rhythm. I think we know what we need to do to win games, and putting the defense first gives us a chance to win.”
The physicality of the first period was a mild foreshadowing of what was to come for the rest of the game. About five minutes into the first, Drew Daniels passed the puck to Greg Costa, who fed it to Robbie Vrolyk posted right in front of the net. Vrolyk gave it a quick tip past UMass goaltender Paul Dainton to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
With three minutes left in the period, the Minutemen tied the game thanks to Michael Marcou’s slap shot from the circles that crept past Northeastern netminder Chris Rawlings. Michael Lecomte and Chase Langeraap also picked up assists on the play while Marcou picked up his seventh goal of the season. Each team recorded two penalties in the first.
The aggression from the first period carried over into the second, as the Minutemen started the period a man short while Lecomte finished serving his two-minute minor from the first for interference. Shortly after his penalty expired, his teammate Casey Wellman took a seat in the penalty box for a high-sticking call.
Nearly a minute into their power play, Kraemer took the puck around the net and passed to Tyler McNeely. In a fashion very similar to their first goal, McNeely fired to MacLeod set up in front of the net, who tipped in a quick goal to put the Huskies up 2-1.
Looking to gain a little more insurance, the Huskies seized their next opportunity at the halfway mark of the second. Garrett Vermeersch passed to Steve Silva, who shot the puck and missed. Grabbing the rebound, Kraemer sent a rocket from between the circles past Dainton to give the Huskies the two-goal lead.
With just under two minutes left in the period, Minutemen captain Justin Braun and Vermeersch were sent to their teams’ penalty boxes for facemask and hitting after the whistle penalties, respectively. Halfway through that penalty, Alex Tuckerman joined Vermeersch in the penalty box for tripping, making it a four-on-three game.
With both teams starting the third off short-handed waiting for their penalties to expire, it took over three minutes for both to get back to full-strength, as James Marcou picked up another penalty for UMass for tripping.
Pairing up once again after their first goal were Vrolyk and Daniels during the power play to give the Huskies their fourth goal. Daniels passed to Vrolyk, who shot from the left circle past Dainton to pick up his second goal of the night.
Drew Daniels’ celebration was short-lived, as he took a hooking penalty seconds after his goal. The aggression of the game saw no bounds, as J.P Maley and Casey Wellman were sent off the ice for hitting after the whistle. UMass also received a penalty from their bench as coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon expressed his displeasure with Wellman’s penalty, making it a three-on-three game.
On a breakaway, MacLeod fired the puck to Huskies’ blueliner Jake Newton. Newton sent a short, hard shot past Dainton to extend the lead to four.
With 10 minutes left to play in regulation, Tuckerman was called for slashing and Lecomte was sent off the ice for fighting and was charged with a five-minute major penalty while also picking up a game disqualification.
Looking to make up for lost ground, UMass scored its second goal thanks to Danny Hobbs. James Marcou and Braun tallied the assists. About a minute later, the Huskies responded, as MacLeod scored his second goal of the evening with help from Vermeersch and Newton.
The final attempt for UMass came with five minutes left in the game with Will Ortiz’s short-handed goal to cut the lead to three, but it was too little, too late for the Minutemen. The Minutemen spent 33 minutes in the penalty box during the game.
“We’re a broken vehicle that needs to be repaired,” said Cahoon. “Every aspect of the game we are just not playing together. It’s not because of lack of effort, it’s because of lack of unity. It goes back to how we’re training these kids and how effectively we’re getting them to play together.
The Huskies will host Boston College next Friday while UMass heads to North Andover to face-off against Merrimack. Both of those games are set for 7 p.m.