Lowell, MA – The #12 Northeastern Huskies blanked the #11 UMass-Lowell River Hawks 3-0 in front of 4,513 at Tsongas Arena. Tyler Madden‘s first period goal would stand to be the game-winner while Craig Pantano stopped all 24 shots he faced. Fresh off a grueling double overtime Beanpot win on Monday, Northeastern showed no residual effects as they controlled the game from the outset.
The River Hawks had the game’s first power play when NU’s Biagio Lerario was called for Slashing at 4:20. The man advantage only lasted thirty-seven seconds after UMass-Lowell’s Andre Lee was whistled for Slashing at 4:57. During the ensuing four on four Madden had a breakaway bid denied by Tyler Wall (19 saves) with a leg save.
Matt Brown was sent to the box for Hooking at 6:22 giving the Huskies the man advantage. Madden’s wrist shot from the left circle beat Wall glove side for the 1-0 Huskies lead at 6:54. Madden’s 19th goal of the season was assisted on by Zach Solow and Ryan Shea.
Three more first period penalties on UMass-Lowell would help stymie their rhythm. Roughing on sophomore Austin O’Rourke at 10:19 and Tripping on freshman Blake Wells at 15:00. The call on Wells led to senior Kenny Hausinger being assessed a 10 Minute Misconduct for Unsportsmanlike Conduct after arguing the call.
Shea and Solow combined again at 5:47 of the second to make it 2-0 Huskies. Entering the River Hawks zone on a three on two Solow slid the puck to a trailing Shea who’s shot bounced off of both River Hawks defenders before ending up in the net. Shea’s goal was his fifth of the season. For Solow it was his second assist of the game and 17th of the year.
Northeastern looked to add to the lead around the nine minute mark as Wall was trying to clear the puck from behind the River Hawks net. The puck deflected to Madden in front of the empty goal but Wall was able to get back in time to keep the score 2-0.
In the third period the pace of play picked up and UMass-Lowell was starting to find its groove in the Huskies zone. Junior Connor Sodergren was stonewalled by Pantano on a breakaway attempt early in the period.
A Hooking call on Huskies defenseman Jeremie Bucheler at 4:01 gave the River Hawks a power play. Just twenty seconds into the power play each team was hit with a penalty, Holding for Lowell’s Carl Berglund and Hooking for NU’s Mike Kesselring. UML had two shots on goal during their man advantage but Pantano was solid.
Pantano’s biggest save of the night came with roughly 10 seconds remaining in the game. With Wall pulled for the extra attacker Hausinger was all alone at the side of a wide open Huskies net. Hausinger fired off a wrist shot towards the top corner but a sprawling Pantano made a stick save to keep his second shut-out of the year intact.
An empty net goal for Aiden McDonough at 19:59 was the icing on the cake for the visiting Huskies.
Despite outshooting the Huskies 24-22 and dominating the face-off circle 33-19 the River Hawks couldn’t match the Huskies scoring prowess.
The road win was just the fifth of the year for Northeastern, 16-8-3 (9-7-1 HEA), while the home loss was also the fifth for the River Hawks, 15-8-5 (9-5-4 HEA). Coming into the game the Huskies were just outside the playoffs in the muddled Hockey East standings, while a win for UML would see the River Hawks move into a tie for first place. But now the Huskies are in seventh and back in the playoff picture while UML slips to third place.
“It’s just not good enough at home to play less than 60 minutes,” said UMass-Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “That’s what I was disappointed with. I thought we had more in us to give. But when you start off killing three or four penalties in the first period it’s a tough road. We were chasing the game.”
“This time of year there’s such little margin for error,” added Bazin. “You have to be really disciplined and play your system to the best of your abilities and I didn’t think we did that tonight.”
“I like they way our team competed and battled,” said Northeastern’s Jim Madigan. “I thought that was probably our best defensive game all year, in terms of how we checked. We got banged up early in the game, we were at one point down to one center-iceman. Our kids showed a lot of resiliency in playing a very good team, hard team to play against. I just liked our compete, our battle, we really checked well tonight.”
“This was a real good team effort and a real good team win for us,” said Madigan.
Madigan credited his team’s older players for helping to keep the focus going forward. “They delivered the message to the rest of the group. We’re in a playoff hunt, we’re in a playoff battle right now. We were on the outside looking in going into tonight. We got two more points but it’s still tight. We can’t afford a Beanpot hangover. In fact we try not to use that word that begins with a “P” and ends with a “T” and just focus in on what’s at hand here and that was Lowell.”
“I thought Pantano was outstanding,” added the coach. “And top it off with about five or six seconds left in the game, they’re (UML) off to the side with the goalie pulled and he just lunged across and that play meant an awful lot to him and our team. He gives us a chance to win every night and he did again tonight.”
The two teams square off again on Saturday at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena at 7:00 pm EST.