Boston, MA — The Massachusetts Minutemen flexed their muscles on Northeastern on Friday night with a dominating offensive display, verifying their status atop every national ranking. The Huskies retreated to Boston and regrouped for a rematch on their hallowed home rink. Matthews Arena provided some perfect home cooking with a raucous crowd, spectacular saves, and a happy close while snow fell outside.
The opening frame saw a mostly even duel between Hockey’s East’s top two teams. UMass only won the shots 11-8 while Cayden Primeau and Matt Murray looked calm and comfortable in net. Northeastern killed the only penalty of the frame and sent the game to intermission scoreless.
UMass dominated the second period, claiming the shots 17-7 and out possessing their hosts by a wide margin. But their only main mistake cost them dearly. Jeremy Davies picked Kurt Keats’ pocket and drove the puck the opposite way. The sophomore from Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, reminded Hockey East of his All-American status with a backhanded roofer on Murray for a 1-0 second intermission lead.
UMass again controlled the pace of the third with 17 more shots and they finally cracked Primeau’s armor. John Leonard, who missed last night’s game due to illness, worked one through from the slot and tied the game eight minutes and change into the period. From there, the sellout crowd at Matthews Arena was treated to a stellar pace and thrilling end of regulation. In the final twenty seconds, Cale Makar got a breakaway and fired on Primeau. The sophomore from Voorhees, NJ, held firm and denied the Hobey Baker candidate a potential game-winner. For the first time in 2019, both teams entered overtime.
In the extra session, each team got one shot on net. Primeau stopped UMass’s attempt. The Northeastern take had a better fate. Northeastern tied up Mario Ferraro in his defensive end. UMass fans and Coach Carvel argued the play should’ve been a penalty, but no official hand went up. Tyler Madden broke out and roofed a backhander on Murray. The team poured out onto the ice and piled on their star freshman from Deerfield Beach, FL, as Northeastern emerged with a 2-1 victory.
Despite the loss, UMass Head Coach Greg Carvel spoke well of his team.
“Unfortunate for us that their two best players got breakaways and finished,” Carvel said. “Our best player got a breakaway and had a chance to finish. I thought Primeau was the difference. It took a real good shot by Johnny Leonard in the third. I thought after we scored that goal that we’d find a way to win. We played extremely well. I think we outshot them two-to-one and out-chanced them the same. I know everyone was very interested to see how we’d play this weekend. I thought we played extremely well both nights and deserved a better outcome tonight.”
UMass drops to 18-4-0 overall and 10-2-0 in Hockey East play. They stay one point ahead of Northeastern for 1st place in the conference.
Matt Murray recorded 22 saves on 24 shots faced.
Carvel’s troops travel north next weekend to face the Maine Black Bears. Puck drops at 7:30 pm ET on Friday night and at 7 pm ET on Saturday night at the Alfond Arena in Orono, Maine.
Northeastern improves to 15-5-1 and 9-3-1 in HEA. Cayden Primeau tied a career-high with 45 saves on 46 shots faced.
Husky Head Coach Jim Madigan was elated.
“What a difference 24 hours makes,” Madigan said. “We challenged our guys and they responded well. This group was resilient. Once they (UMass) got it to 1-1, I thought we played better than it was 1-0 in the third period. Going into overtime, I mentioned to our guys ‘Have confidence that you’re going to win’. That’s a good team we played.”
Northeastern faces #10/11 Providence in a home-and-home next weekend. Puck drop is 7 pm ET both nights. Friday night is at Schneider Arena in Providence, and Saturday is back at Matthews.