Boston- Northeastern entered Valentines Day weekend with a Beanpot trophy and a ninth place spot in the crowded Hockey East standings. They went to Lowell and shutout the RiverHawks on Friday night without forward Matt Filipe or defense Jayden Struble. In the process of winning, they lost Tyler Madden after their star scorer took a puck off his hand. Saturday night at Matthews brought a chance to celebrate the Beanpot win with the Doghouse and another battle with Lowell. NU skated eleven forwards end eight defenders, barely keeping a normal line rotation up front. Still, Northeastern gutted out one of their most impressive wins of the season.
Lowell had more jump at the start of the night. Norm Bazin’s squad jumped to a 14-4 shot advantage in the first period. Craig Pantano performed well but could not stop every puck he saw. Sophomore Winnipeg, Manitoba, native Reid Stefanson sprung free up the left wing and beat Pantano glove side to give the RiverHawks a lead going into the first intermission.
The Huskies continued leaning on Pantano in the second, with the shots even at seven apiece. The offense did get a look and tied the game, though. Mike Kesselring notched his second goal of the season with a one time slap shot from the left circle. The game stayed tied 1-1 into the second intermission.
Northeastern worked at the Lowell defense and benefitted from a wildly fortunate bounce. Matt Demelis played a puck shot by Jordan Harris off the glass. The puck caromed off Demelis’ stick to Lowell defender Anthony Baxter and bounced off the Oakville, Ontario, native’s left arm into the net for Demelis’ seventh goal of the season. Lowell pushed back in the final minutes but could not beat Pantano. A depleted and badly outshot Husky team won 2-1.
Lowell drops to 15-9-5 (9-6-4 HEA). The two-loss weekend is the first lost sweep of the season for the RiverHawks. They fall to fourth place in Hockey East.
“I’d like to congratulate our opponent,” stated Lowell Head Coach Norm Bazin. “They took two tight games from us this weekend, and tonight’s done. This was a tough one for us.”
Tyler Wall stopped 18 of 20 shots faced.
The RiverHawks face Hockey East’s second placed team next weekend, the Massachusetts Minutemen, in a home-and-home series. Puck drops at the Tsongas Center in Lowell on Friday night at 7:15 pm ET and at the Mullins Center in Amherst on Saturday night at 7 pm ET.
Northeastern improves to 17-8-3 (10-7-1 HEA). The four point weekend takes the Huskies from ninth place (outside the playoff picture) to sixth, tied with the Providence Friars, against whom the Huskies have two games in hand.
“Other than adjusting our lines, we didn’t change our game plan,” commented Jim Madigan. “We didn’t talk much about Tyler (Madden) not being in the lineup. We just said ‘Hey, we’ve got a job to do.’ These are two big points and we’re in a playoff hunt. Let’s just go about it. Guys stepped up.”
On the remarkable parity in Hockey East Madigan had the following observation: “My tenure with this league goes back to the first year. I was a senior in that first year of Hockey East in 1984-1985. I have a lot of history in this league and never have I seen it this bunched up. It’s gonna be a dog fight all the way to the end.”
Regarding the injured forwards Madigan said that “Filipe is getting close. It’s day-to-day now. Madden will be further evaluated on Monday and we’ll have a better timeline we can share on Monday or Tuesday.”
Craig Pantano stole the night with 30 saves on 31 shots faced, his fifth 30 save or more game in his last seven outings.
NU plays an important series against Beanpot rival Boston College this week on Thursday night and Friday night. Puck drops at 7 pm both nights. Matthews Arena plays host on Thursday night and Conte Forum is the venue for Friday night.