BOSTON – After a tie and a loss last weekend, the Jim Madigan era at Northeastern University finally saw a victory on Friday night at Matthews Arena as junior goaltender Chris Rawlings pitched his school-record ninth shutout in a 4-0 decision over No. 15 New Hampshire.
The victory marks Northeastern’s 250th-all time victory in Hockey East play and also breaks a six-game winless streak against the Wildcats that dates back to Nov. 21, 2008. In that span, the teams have skated to three ties.
“Obviously, it was a great win for our team,” said Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan, who earned his first-career coaching victory. “We had a good week of practice and we brought the game into it’s simplest form in all three zones.”
“It was nice for us to go out there and compete to earn our first victory…Being 1-1-1 in the league is certainly more important than Jim Madigan’s first [coaching] win.”
With the Huskies’ first blanking of the season, the North Delta, B.C. native made 27 saves en route to tying Brad Theissen’s career record with nine shutouts from 2006-09.
Madigan is just the second Northeastern coach in program history to earn his inaugural victory after two unsuccessful tries, with the other being Jim Bell in 1955.
It was all Huskies in the first period as they tagged UNH senior Matt DiGirolamo for three scores on just six shots.
Madigan added, “[the three goals] gave us a chance to believe in what we worked on all week in practice–just actually coming through.”
The Huskies had not scored three goals in a period since the third and deciding game of the Hockey East Quarterfinals at Boston University on March 13. All three goals for NU came on six shots on net and just 11 total attempts as compared to UNH’s 11 shots on target and 27 total chances on Rawlings.
Northeastern took the 1-0 edge at the 6:29 mark of the first stanza as Braden Pimm redirected a nifty pass in the slot from junior linemate Steve Quailer.
Pimm leads the Huskies with five points on the young season and is one of just two Huskies to have scored in every contest this season.
Less than two minutes later at the 7:46 mark, sophomore Zak Stone was found at the right place at the right time as he sent a loose puck five-hole on DiGirolamo for his first collegiate goal.
The Roslyn, N.Y. native played in 14 games last year, recording his only point on an assist against Harvard on Jan. 19.
Justin Daniels made it 3-0 for the home team at the 9:21 mark as he deposited a loose puck into the back of the net to give NU its first three-goal lead of the season.
UNH surrendered five goals in a shutout at BU last Saturday and had been blanked just six times in the last five seasons, including just two in 2010-11.
Despite 14 total shots in the period, neither team was able to light the lamp in the middle stanza as both goaltenders settled in to keep the score at 3-0 in favor of the home team. The Huskies have enjoyed recent success when leading after two stanzas with a 20-3-3 record over the past two seasons under that scenario.
At the start of the third period, the Huskies put several golden chances towards DiGirolamo’s cage, including a point-blank shot from Robbie Vrolyk on the right circle with a few minutes gone by.
Northeastern ended the outing of DiGirolamo at the 8:37 mark of the third period as UNH’s tough luck continued when the score increased to 4-0.
Sophomore Luke Eibler kept the puck in at the right point and dished to senior captain Mike McLaughlin on the right circle for his second goal of the season.
McLaughlin took a wrist shot that was deflected into the net over DiGirolamo’s right shoulder, allowing Reading, Mass. native and sophomore Jeff Wyer to see his first regular-season game action ever in a Wildcat uniform.
McLaughlin, the Seaforth, Ont. native, has scored a goal in two straight games for the fifth time in his career with the last duo coming on Feb. 7 (Harvard) and Feb. 11, 2011 (at UMass-Lowell).
Wyer made three saves in the final 11:23 of the third period, while DiGirolamo made 14 stops in 48:37 as he was credited with his second defeat of the season.
For Husky goaltender Chris Rawlings the game was a great comeback from last weekend’s performance.
“It was a complete 180 from Maine,” said Rawlings. “Our team was completely different in all three zones. The biggest key was all the shots we blocked…Pucks were not getting through which makes my job a lot easier.”
The Huskies return to action next Friday night at Merrimack, while UNH’s home opener is tomorrow night against the nation’s top ranked team, Boston College.