The monkey is finally off their back. For the first time since 2011, Northeastern has won a playoff series, sweeping Maine with a 4-3 overtime victory.
On his final shot on net at Matthews Arena, senior captain Kevin Roy, one of the most storied players in program history, found the puck on his stick after a turnover in the Huskies attacking zone and fired a shot past Maine (8-24-6) goalie Rob McGovern (26 saves).
“We had a good forecheck throughout the weekend,” said Roy, “I think we forced their defensemen to make mistakes and I think that’s what happened there. I just turned around and tried to get it on net and not get it blocked by the defenseman.”
Northeastern (18-13-5) will next head to South Bend, Indiana, for a best-of-three quarterfinals series against Notre Dame.
“What a series,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “We were on the short end of this last year where I thought we played well and we lost two overtime games, so it’s nice to win two overtime games.”
It looked like it was going to be a blowout after the first period, with Northeastern getting three goals in the opening frame.
First, with 5:09 left in the period, Eric Williams collected a Roy pass right off of a faceoff win and sniped a shot from the blue line through traffic and into the back of the net.
Northeastern kept the momentum going just over a minute later courtesy of Nolan Stevens’ team-leading 17th goal of the season. Battling in front of the net, Stevens redirected a shot from the point past McGovern, beating him glove side.
The party continued for Northeastern just 48 seconds later when Roy picked up a loose puck along the boards, skated around the net, and burned McGovern on a wrap-around.
Maine would not go down quietly though, fighting back in the second period while outshooting Northeastern 16-5.
The Black Bears were rewarded at the 11:44 mark of the period. On a power play due to a Colton Saucerman cross-checking penalty, junior Cam Brown crashed the net on a Will Merchant shot and banged the rebound home.
Using the momentum from their second period surge, the Black Bears got two more in the third to send the game to overtime.
Less than five minutes into the frame, Cedric Lacroix received a pass from Andrew Tegeler below the right faceoff dot and sent a wrister past Northeastern goalie Ryan Ruck (33 saves).
A couple of minutes later, Keith Muehlbauer collected a cross-ice pass from Brendan Robbins along the boards and beat Ruck for his first collegiate goal.
Despite not scoring since the first period and Maine controlling the tempo for a good portion of the latter 40 minutes, overtime saw each team get a multitude of opportunities before Roy scored the game-winner.
“It was outstanding,” Maine coach Red Gendron said of his team’s fight battling back from an early deficit. “We got down 3-0, we played pretty well prior to them getting a flurry there.
“Then we battled back, and got two goals in the third period to tie the game, and we had several other chances to win it and we didn’t, and that’s hockey. But I can’t fault our hockey club in terms of effort, intensity, for the entire weekend not just tonight’s game, that’s just the reality of it.”